This year’s 2021 Canadian Internet Governance Forum (IGF)—Canada’s leading multi-stakeholder forum for internet and digital policy issues—will take place throughout the year as a series of virtual events called Canadian IGF Talks.
The first session, Does the Government of Canada Still Support the Open Internet? took place on Tuesday, July 6 and was presented by CIRA, as part of its Community Investment Program.
Daniel Bernhard of FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, Michael Geist of the University of Ottawa, Laura Tribe of OpenMedia, and Janet Yale, Chair of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review, debated the Canadian government’s 2021 digital policy agenda in a discussion moderated by CIRA president and CEO Byron Holland.
The panelists discussed how and when the Government of Canada ought to assert its sovereignty and jurisdiction with “Big Tech” companies, how best to support Canadian content and news media in the digital age, and the government’s commitment to the principles of the open internet.
Lots of the conversation centered around Bill C-10, An Act to Amend the Broadcasting Act, and the discrepancies between what was promised and intended by the government, and what has ended up in the bill. The “mismanaged” parliamentary process for Bill C-10 has led many experts and advocates to question the government’s support for the open internet and net neutrality.
Below you will find a link to the full video recording of the event, as well as an overview of the key takeaways from the first Canadian IGF Talks session:
Canadian IGF Talks: Does the Government of Canada Still Support the Open Internet?
1) While drafting laws to support Canadian content and news media, the government should begin with a clear picture of what they want Canada to look like at the end.
Bill C-10 and the proposals for how to support news media have begged the question: should support for news, arts, and culture rest on the continued growth of social media platforms? They also necessitate an examination of what and who the government is trying to support. Some panelists pointed out that while creating Bill C-10, digital-first creators were not consulted.
In addition, while discussing the viability of the Australian news model in Canada, Michael Geist noted that the model has only served to benefit a news media giant, Robert Murdoch. OpenMedia’s Laura Tribe stressed multiple times that the government should focus on fostering an environment for innovation and not simply focus on supporting large legacy players in the Canadian arts and news sectors.