National Newswatch

Election 2019: Return of the Netflix tax debate

Aug 8 2019 — Michael Geist — Four years ago, then-prime minister Stephen Harper used the first week of the 2015 federal election campaign to pledge that, if re-elected, his government would not institute a “Netflix tax.” The Liberals responded with a no-Netflix-tax promise of their own, which became government policy when Justin Trudeau was elected a few months later. Yet as […]

What’s next, after the 2012 copyright overhaul?

Jun 12 2017 — Michael Geist — The decade-long debate over Canadian copyright that preceded the 2012 legislative overhaul was marked by sharply divided views among stakeholders across the spectrum. Five years later, the reform package assembled by then-ministers Tony Clement and James Moore may not have been perfect, but the Conservative government got far more right than it got wrong.

Secrecy around $30M Ontario music fund strikes wrong notes: Geist

Feb 22 2016 — Michael Geist — Earlier this month, the British Columbia government unveiled a new $15 million music fund to support the local music industry. The fund matches a similar Ontario initiative that has doled out nearly $30 million over the past two years with a commitment from Premier Kathleen Wynne to make the Ontario Music Fund a permanent program […]

Eight Tricky Tech Decisions Looming over Trudeau

Jan 5 2016 — Michael Geist — Technology law and policy continues to command the attention of the public and policy makers. As Canada enters a new year with a new government, 2016 will be all about making tough choices on a wide range of technology law policies, including the following eight issues that are sure to generate headlines.

Veiled TPP Deal Holds Hidden Privacy Risks

Oct 13 2015 — Michael Geist — The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that covers nearly 40 per cent of world GDP, wrapped up years of negotiation earlier this month. The TPP immediately emerged as an election issue, with the Conservatives trumpeting the deal as a source of future economic growth, the Liberals adopting a wait-and-see approach (the specific details […]

Canadian Government Amends “Caretaker Rules” To Give Itself Power to Continue Negotiating TPP

Aug 4 2015 — Michael Geist — This past weekend was a busy one politically as Canada was launched into a lengthy election campaign just as countries negotiating the latest round of Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in Hawaii failed to conclude a deal. With reports that there may be a follow-up ministerial meeting within weeks, Canadian officials have been quick to claim […]

CBC Seeks Takedown of Conservative Ad, Claims “No One” Can Re-Use Its News Clips Without Permission

Jun 29 2015 — Michael Geist — Last week, the Conservative party posted an offensive advertisement on YouTube and Facebook titled Justin Trudeau on ISIS. The ad starts with ISIS music and images of prisoners about be drowned or beheaded before running short edited clips from a 13 minute interview with Trudeau and the CBC’s Terry Milewski. The advertisement has rightly generated […]

We Can’t Hear You: The Shameful Review of Bill C-51 By the Numbers

Mar 31 2015 — Michael Geist — The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security will hold its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism bill, this morning. The government is expected to introduce several modest amendments that experts note do little to address some of the core concerns with the bill. While there is some tinkering with the information sharing […]

How dangerous is C-51? You might be surprised.

Mar 20 2015 — Michael Geist — As witnesses line up to warn about the dangers associated with Bill C-51, Canada’s anti-terrorism bill, it’s increasingly clear that the proposed legislation is an unprecedented undermining of Canadian privacy protection. Much of the focus on the bill has related to oversight: the government implausibly claims that it increases oversight (it does not), the Liberals […]

Government documents reveal telecom providers envision surveillance-ready networks

Dec 12 2014 — Michael Geist — After years of failed bills, public debate and considerable controversy, lawful access legislation received royal assent earlier this week. Bill C-13 lumped together measures designed to combat cyberbullying with a series of new warrants to enhance police investigative powers, generating criticism from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, civil liberties groups and some prominent victims rights […]

Broadcaster Copyright Misuse and Collusion?

Oct 14 2014 — Michael Geist — Why Criticism Over the Government’s Political Ad Copyright Exception May Be Pointed in the Wrong Direction. The Canadian Thanksgiving weekend featured escalating rhetoric over the government’s proposed copyright exception for political advertising with claims of fascism, censorship, expropriation, and more. The commentary bears almost no relationship to reality. The truth is that the government and […]

CRTC vs. Netflix: Has Canada’s Broadcast Regulator Started a Fight It Can’t Win?

Sep 29 2014 — Michael Geist — Canadian regulatory hearings are usually relatively predictable affairs with scripted presentations and well-rehearsed speaking lines to most questions. During the recent two-week Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearing on the future of television regulation (dubbed “TalkTV” by the CRTC), Chair Jean-Pierre Blais expressed frustration on several occasions with the unwillingness of witnesses to veer much […]