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June 22, 2021

Our Relationship with the Internet

One of the most sweeping representations of our collective well-being comes from our relationship with the Internet, nourished by regulation.

I believe one of the most sweeping representations of our collective well-being comes from our relationship with the Internet.

So, call me when even a few dozen individual Canadian, Indigenous and Francophone creators generate the kind of reach and revenues on digital media platforms that would get the attention of the CRTC as a result of Bill C-10. If that happens, the bill has worked to create discoverability for these “broadcasters” on the global market, which would be a monumental accomplishment.

Working towards this kind of success will not come at the expense of your Charter Rights, nor impose a Canadian cultural sovereignty myth upon you, thereby forcing you to watch Canadian content that you would otherwise find without the bill.

Above and beyond content creation, whether it’s about our health, career, economy, civic responsibilities, or entertainment, we are better poised to address illness, career success, financial prosperity, community engagement and personal self-fulfillment if we have:

1. Access to high-speed Internet

2. Hardware to use it

3. Skills to navigate it

4. Protection from threats, oppression and hate propagated on it

Regulating the Internet in Canada and implementing policies that govern the delivery of content on it to Canadians is part of a progression to make numbers 1 to 4 above a reality for more Canadians and Indigenous peoples. All four should be true not just for the tech savvy, wealthy and keen. They should be attainable and affordable for every person, even those who only seldom need, or want, to use the Internet.

If you’re opposed to Bill C-10 because you think regulations are an overreach by government, free market forces should determine the best content, and it infringes on our “freedom of speech”, newsflash: it’s because your Canadian cultural sovereignty has, in fact, been eroded.

“Free Speech” is protected in the United States Constitution; we don’t call it that in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “Deregulation” and “free market” are American economic concepts that enable the U.S. to dominate Canada in the global economy, if not for measures to ensure the discoverability of, for instance, Canadian lumber, dairy, eggs, oil & gas, steel, automotive and manufacturing products.

The U.S. promotes deregulation and the free market because algorithms, populations and promotional and distribution finance machines work in their favour, not necessarily because their products are more exceptional than Canada’s. And Canadian products aren’t any less exceptional when they are bolstered by regulation, policy and subsidy. These three form part of Canada’s competitive advantage on the global market. 

But, the American “Winner Takes All” mentality reaches us with relentless regularity, muting our strengths. The fact that we use the very same language as our neighbours south of the border is the result of Americanisms that permeate the content we consume in all media because of the very metrics that prioritize what we watch, read and listen to.

Bill C-10 was poorly communicated, debated ineptly and passed under circumstances that fuel suspicion and mistrust. We’re better off with it and all of the work it will take to navigate through the challenges and opportunities it creates.

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