Ottawa Looks to Address US Concerns That Internet Regulation Bill Is Discriminatory, Trade Minister Says. | Jobs Recent

The federal government is looking to address concerns from the United States that Canada’s pending Internet bill will discriminate against American businesses, International Trade Minister Mary Ng said.

“There will definitely be issues that we have to address,” Ng told the Senate Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee on December 15.

“I was clear to the US Trade Representative that our bill going forward is trade-friendly, so we had a discussion like we do on many issues between Canada and the US,” added Ng, referring to a recent conversation he had with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

According to a US government press release, Tai told Ng during a virtual meeting on November 30 that the US government is concerned that Bill C-11, if passed, “could affect digital broadcasting services and online news sharing and discriminate against businesses they are in the US.”

Bill C-11, which has passed the House of Commons and is currently being read in the Senate, would amend the Broadcasting Act to give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) the power to regulate streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify.

Under this legislation, the CRTC will have the power to regulate what content is available to Canadians through online platforms. The stated goal of the bill is to promote Canadian content to viewers within the country.

“If they see [the U.S.] take the position that it is not compatible with trade, where is the potential return? And what are we doing to prepare for it?” Sen. Michael MacDonald asked Ng at the committee meeting.

Ng replied that Canada and the US, which are “law-based countries,” will discuss the issue again.

“We can expect that the United States will also follow the same rules we are negotiating,” he said.

US companies

Bill C-11 has faced pushback from many digital-based companies and content creators, many of them American broadcasting giants.

Representatives for Spotify and Disney previously told the Senate communications committee that Bill C-11 does not provide a sufficiently “flexible” definition of Canadian content to achieve the intent of the legislation.

“No one thing should be the deciding factor in determining what is contained in Canada,” said Disney’s vice president of public policy, David Fares, when he testified before the committee on September 15.

Fares said Disney has produced a number of Canadian films and TV shows that would not be considered Canadian content under Bill C-11 because they are funded by an American company.

Sotify CEO Nathan Wiszniak raised a similar issue at a committee meeting that he said would affect the Canadian music streaming giant.

“The rules defining what qualifies as Canadian content should be reviewed,” he said.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez defended the law, saying he would support Canadian artists and creators.

“It will encourage the creation of good jobs in the cultural sector, make Canadian content more accessible and make it easier for people to find local Canadian music and news,” he said in the House of Commons on June 6.

“It’s been a long time since streaming platforms played their fair share in our culture.”

Peter Wilson

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Peter Wilson is a journalist based in Ontario, Canada.

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