Report to the IAPA 77 General Assembly Virtual
October 19-22

The country is sailing through rough waters in a slow recovery from the pandemic, while severe controls and restrictions remain in place for journalists covering public health issues.

Several legislative issues affect freedom of expression. On June 23, the government introduced Bill C-36 - which addresses the issue of online hate speech. However, there are concerns that it could reinstate powers under the Canadian Human Rights Act that could affect freedom of expression. The bill provides for the creation of government "digital security" overseers to monitor "online service providers" - which could lead to government intrusion into content.

Late last year, the government introduced Bill C-10 - a highly questioned amendment to Canada's Broadcasting Act. At first glance the bill seemed harmless, it aimed to bring streaming services like Netflix under the control of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). However, during its implementation, a key exemption for user-generated content was removed. The bill was then passed in the House of Commons despite warnings that it would give the regulator too much power to limit citizens' rights to freedom of expression.

There is ongoing discussion about the initiative from conservative legislators to withdraw operating funds from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - affecting several communities that use that source of information.

Aboriginal, ethnic and foreign language publications continue to show a slight increase in readership. Several of these small - but increasingly strong - biweekly ethnic community publications have positioned themselves as the source of up-to-date local information.