Industry urges swift action following federal election result

As the Liberals remain in power with another minority government, industry stakeholders expect them to fulfill their promise to table new legislation around the Broadcasting Act soon.

Canada’s federal Liberal Party will have a second chance to pass new legislation for the Broadcasting Act following the results of the Sept. 20 snap election.

The party, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has been re-elected to form a minority government for the 44th Parliament.

The final tally has not been finalized as of press time, but Canadian news organizations have projected that the party will take 158 seats in Parliament, up one from the 2019 federal election results. The Conservatives are expected to take 119 seats (down by two from 2019), the Bloc Québéçois to take 34 (up by two), the NDP to take 25 (up by one) and the Green Party to take two (down by one).

Among the incumbent Liberal candidates re-elected is Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, who won the Laurier-Sainte-Marie riding.

“Congratulations to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to every candidate elected to the 44th Parliament,” says the CMPA in a statement to Playback Daily. “We look forward to all parties coming together in their collective promise to update the Broadcasting Act and continuing the work to ensure a more diverse and sustainable independent production sector in Canada.”

According to the Liberals’ campaign platform, the party plans to reintroduce legislation to modernize the Broadcasting Act within its first 100 days.

While Bill C-10, which was tabled in November 2020, was passed through the House of Commons, it died in the Senate when the snap election was called, meaning it will have to go through the same process again before it’s passed.

“Another failure along the lines of Bill C-10 is not an option for the Canadian television industry, which is in danger of dying,” said Maureen Parker, executive director of the Writers Guild of Canada, in a statement congratulating the Liberal party on its re-election.

“The volume of Canadian-produced series has dropped by 50% since 2017 and we have already lost a generation of screenwriting talent to the U.S. for lack of opportunity in Canada. Without immediate legislation that requires online broadcasters, including the large global streamers, to contribute financially to the production of Canadian content, the next generation of Canadian talent — and the industry — is in peril.”

As a minority government the Liberals may face another uphill battle to pass new legislation.

The previous bill was stalled as critics raised concerns around freedom of speech. While the Conservatives and the NDP all called for an update to the Broadcasting Act in their respective campaign platforms, it remains to be seen whether similar tactics will be used with future bills.

“We have been advocating for these reforms for more than a decade. The Liberals, NDP and Bloc have all committed to enacting legislation quickly that will make meaningful changes to the Broadcasting Act that will support the telling of more Canadian stories in Canada,” added Parker. “It’s time for them to act.”

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