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Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. He has obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees from Cambridge University in the UK and Columbia Law School in New York, and a Doctorate in Law (J.S.D.) from Columbia Law School. Dr. Geist is a syndicated columnist on technology law issues with his regular column appearing in the Toronto Star, the Hill Times, and the Tyee. Dr. Geist is the editor of several copyright books including The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law (2013, University of Ottawa Press), From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda (2010, Irwin Law) and In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law (2005, Irwin Law), the editor of several monthly technology law publications, and the author of a popular blog on Internet and intellectual property law issues.
Dr. Geist serves on many boards, including the CANARIE Board of Directors, the Canadian Legal Information Institute Board of Directors, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation Advisory Board. He has received numerous awards for his work including the Kroeger Award for Policy Leadership and the Public Knowledge IP3 Award in 2010, the Les Fowlie Award for Intellectual Freedom from the Ontario Library Association in 2009, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 2008, Canarie’s IWAY Public Leadership Award for his contribution to the development of the Internet in Canada and he was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2003. In 2010, Managing Intellectual Property named him on the 50 most influential people on intellectual property in the world and Canadian Lawyer named him one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Click here to view Dr. Geist’s full CV.
Guilbeault’s Gag Order: Government Plans Motion to Stop Bill C-10 Debate
Earlier this week, Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet called for a “gag order” on Bill C-10, which would limit debate on the bill using a process known as time allocation. The irony of calling for a gag order on debate over a bill with profound implications for freedom of expression is likely not lost on many Canadians. But worse than a regional, separatist party with 32 MPs calling for a gag order is the Minister of Canadian Heritage doing so. That is precisely what happened last night, as Steven Guilbeault announced that the government would be introducing a motion to cut off debate on Bill C-10.
Guilbeault’s statement in support of the gag order is riddled with inaccuracies and omissions:
- He claims that lengthy bill study has been the product of “systematic obstruction”, but anyone following committee debate will fairly note the genuine questions and concerns about the proposed legislation, which Guilbeault himself has failed to coherently address in repeated media interviews.
- He argues that there has been many witnesses, yet does not acknowledge that digital-first Canadian creators were never asked to appear before committee.
- He makes no mention of the fact that the hearings over the past month have been focused on the implications of changes that the government itself made by moving to regulate user generated content, thereby opening the door to concerns about speech regulation and violations of net neutrality.
- He does not acknowledge the remarkable uncertainty in the bill with core terms not defined, thresholds not identified, and massive power delegated to the CRTC, which has proven itself unsuitable for such responsibility.
- He suggests that the bill means lost support of $70 million per month, when the reality is that foreign services are among the largest supporters of film production in Canada and any new revenues from the bill will ultimately be paid by Canadian consumers.
- His $70 million per month claim is particularly absurd given that the bill envisions months of hearings before the CRTC before anything is finalized. To suggest that debating dozens of amendments – many raised by the government or Liberal MPs – is delaying any payments is plainly false.
- He speaks of the opposition supporting web giants when Guilbeault’s own department has advised that the bill could regulate everything from podcast apps to home workout videos to audiobook platforms.
For the Minister of Canadian Heritage to respond to legitimate, widely held concerns about the freedom of expression impact of legislation by seeking to cut off debate makes a mockery of our Canadian heritage.
The appropriate response is for the creator lobby groups who claimed to be ardent supporters of free speech to speak out against a legislative gag order, for opposition parties to say no to a process unworthy of a government that proclaimed that better is always possible, and for the government to live up to those ideals by withdrawing the bill and hitting the reset button.