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Bill C-11 is here - now what?

Updated: Feb 4

On February 2, 2023, the third reading of Bill C-11 was conducted in the Senate and passed with amendments. For many Canadians, specifically Christians, this was their own Groundhog day. Governments in which the people elected create and pass laws attacking the fundamental freedoms they are supposed to have. The only thing worse is the appointment of Senators by such elected officials to safeguard against overreaching legislation that resonates more in places like China or North Korea, simply passing these laws. As a result, bill C-11 was pushed through, just like Bill C-4 was pushed through – and both are extremely dangerous.

The Bill was tabled by none other than Pablo Rodriguez, a Liberal MP out of Quebec, and moved through the House of Commons and Senate reasonably easily and quickly. Naturally, there will come many court challenges surrounding the constitutionality of the legislation, but much like C-4, much interpretation will take place within the court system. Based on what many have witnessed here in Canada, the courts have moved into dangerous territory over certain fundamental freedoms and the COVID-19 acts and regulations being forced upon the healthy. So why should Christians be concerned with this new law? Why is it not sufficient to have the attitude of "well, we don't preach hatred, just Jesus and love!," here are a few considerations

The first area of concern is the jurisdiction that will be given to the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Telecommunication Commission) to have expanded authority in transmitting programs over the Internet. Granted under the opening summary of the Act does clarify that the act "does not apply in respect of programs uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service by a user of the service unless the programs are prescribed by regulation;"[1] There is that issue of what exactly is prescribed by this legislation. First, let's deal with the basics; this is what the politicians want you to know about the Act.

A) The Act will make broadcasting more accessible and provide the needs of what politicians have deemed interest to all Canadians.

B) Allow more accessibility to Indigenous programming and official language programming.

C) Other amendments to accommodate a large Canadian interest.

Now, all of that is good. Well, considering that most Christian broadcasting and I use that term loosely, is confined to a few specialty channels that one must subscribe to. It is safe to say that this Act will not ensure that Biblical, sound exegetical Christian programming will be more widely accessible in this country. Canadians will be assured everything is fine; however, the onslaught of programming within the LGBTQ and other movements will be given more consideration – as such areas are deemed "Canadian Values" under the provision of a multicultural society.

What are some of the definitions? Well, first, the broadcasting angle. Any method of getting information out either through the internet or airwaves. Likewise, a broadcasting undertaking, by definition, includes all undertakings, including online or network.

Now section 3 does provide some exclusions to the law, such as social media services and uploading content, but this is the "Government" we are talking about, after all. There will be many challenges from the government and public regarding podcasts, livestreamed church service and other online teaching ministries that the Act will deem as broadcasting. Please make no mistake; they will not go after online social media posts about cat videos on your Instagram or Snapchat page. Attention needs to be paid to the different aspects of the Act, like exclusion, which includes when the program is not primarily engaging the public – which almost all current streaming does, minus the accounts that lock everything up and require a subscription fee to access.

Again, where language encourages and promotes unity and freedom, it is a snare within itself. Look at section (5.‍1)Subparagraph 3(1)‍(i)‍(iv) of the Act is replaced by the following:

Provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern and to directly participate in public dialogue on those matters, including through the community element, and

House of Commons Bill C-11[2]

One needs to read this carefully. There is no legal interpretation or reference to restricting Christian content, but language is essential. Public exposure to the expression of different views on the matter of public concern. Remember that the passing of Bill C-4, the Anti-Conversion Therapy law makes it illegal to speak to individuals regarding sexuality and the Christian faith. To preach a message of grace, repentance and salvation has been deemed hatred by the Government. Further, they have deemed Christianity (and other religions) that disagree with government policy as myths.

Widening from the legal jargon of the Act, it must be noted that many are concerned over this new law. Nicholas Seles, in June 2022, wrote a piece in Maclean's magazine Why Bill C-11 The Online Streaming Act – is bad news for Canadian YouTubers like myself mentions the Government's potential to bury content. He said,

YouTubers and other content creators in Canada are increasingly worried that the Bill threatens how content creators earn a living by affecting visibility and potentially limiting video views. [3]

Later in the article, the CRTC was also addressed with potential interference with discoverability.

We know from the Bill's text that the CRTC will be given a mandate to promote the 'discoverability' of Canadian content, specifically, and that websites under the CRTC jurisdiction, such as YouTube, will be obligated to comply with this discoverability mandate.[4]

Nichols is not the only voice of opposition; in fact, the editorial team at the Toronto Sun also addressed the issue of the problematic Bill C-11 in the June 19, 2022 editorial. In their article, the matter of online censorship is addressed. It states,

But the legislation is also a gateway to online censorship. It does this by giving the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission the power to regulate what they call "user-generated content." This means that what Canadians post to places like YouTube and TikTok would fall under government control.[5]

Now not to reopen an old wound as I have beaten that horse over and over – but the issues of the Bill come back to Bill C-4 – Remember, in the preamble, it stated (Bold added)

Whereas conversion therapy causes harm to society because, among other things, it is based on and propagates myths and stereotypes about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, including the myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions;[6]

The Government has already dismissed the very values of a majority of the population for a small minority of the people by deeming their beliefs as myths. Now take that legislation with Such as section 319(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada states that "Everyone who, by communication statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.[7] Further, there is the wilful promotion of hatred, subsection 2, which states communicating statements, other than in private conversation, hatred against any identifiable group[8] – what exactly is identifiable? Identifiable group means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability[9]. Still, one will not see Christianity in this group. Why? This a good question and deserves an answer. Why is it that churches are burned in Canada, programs use the name of Jesus Christ as the most profane cursing, and Christianity is mocked to a high level of hatred in this country? More reason for concern, C-11 will not work well for the Christian. And for those who feel "public place" excludes the Christian church, think again. COVID has taught many things, and one major is that the magistrates of the land deem places of worship as public places. Even the Criminal Code deems places any place the public has access to, either by invitation, expressed, or implied[10].

All this to say is that the blocks have been stacked. However, moving back to the Toronto Sun article, it is important to remember the intention of the Bill.

More broadly, part of the Bill's goal is to promote and amplify Canadian content and culture. "What happens if the Government starts to view content that's inconvenient for the Government as unCanadian?[11]

This is where the main issue lies, what the Canadian Government has deemed Canadian. They have already attacked the Christian Faith in so many ways. It is only time churches that stand on Biblical authority have their tax exemptions