Bill C-11: Online Streaming Act (2023)

Letters to Government

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[Your City]
[Your Postal Code]

[Your MP]
[MP Address]
[MP City]
[MP Postal Code]

Subject: Concerns about Bill C-11 (Online Streaming Act) and its Impact on Freedom of Expression and Canadian Content Promotion

Dear [Your local MP],

I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Christopher Balkaran, creator and host of the Open Minds Podcast – As a concerned citizen and an active participant in the digital realm, I am writing to express my reservations regarding the recently passed Bill C-11, also known as the Online Streaming Act. I understand that the primary aim of this legislation is to support Canadian media content by requiring streaming services, such as Netflix, Spotify, and Disney+, to promote and make Canadian content discoverable. While I appreciate the intent to bolster the local media industry and level the playing field between traditional broadcasters and online platforms, I am apprehensive about certain aspects of the law that have the potential to infringe on freedom of expression and content diversity.

To begin, I acknowledge that applying similar regulations to online media platforms as traditional broadcasters seems logical, given the changing landscape of media consumption. However, my concern lies in the potential for this law leading to unintended consequences, including censorship and a narrowing of content choices for Canadians. As a nation that values freedom of expression and diverse perspectives, we must be cautious about granting the government the power to determine what entertainment residents should be exposed to, rather than allowing content suggestions to be based on individual preferences and interests.

One of my main concerns is the imposition of censorship through the promotion and discoverability of Canadian content. By requiring streaming platforms to prioritize certain content over others, we risk undermining the principles of free speech and creative expression that are fundamental to a democratic society. Content that might be considered controversial, such as discussions on the Freedom Convoy, LGBTQ+ rights, or Indigenous communities in favour of pipeline development, should not be subject to biased promotion or suppression based on political or ideological considerations. Instead, all Canadian content, regardless of its nature, should be treated with fairness and given the opportunity to reach its intended audience without undue interference.

Additionally, there is the pressing question of who gets to define what constitutes Canadian content. While it is essential to promote our rich cultural heritage and amplify local voices, the process of defining Canadian content needs to be transparent, inclusive, and diverse. Decisions regarding content promotion must be guided by a broad representation of Canadian society, including input from artists, creators, stakeholders, partners and those willing to delve into the more challenging topics that can be divisive. By involving various perspectives, we can ensure a more balanced and accurate portrayal of the Canadian experience in our media landscape.

The potential for abuse or manipulation of these regulations also concerns me deeply. The power to decide what content is promoted and what is not can be easily misused for political gains or to silence dissenting voices. It is crucial that adequate safeguards are in place to prevent any undue influence on content promotion, ensuring that the focus remains on fostering creativity and supporting a thriving media industry, rather than stifling artistic expression.

In light of these concerns, I kindly urge you, as my elected representative, to address these issues in Parliament and utilize the power you do have to work with Minister Rodriguez and others to safeguard the principles of freedom of expression and content diversity. I believe that it is possible to support the Canadian media industry while maintaining the values and rights that are at the core of our democratic society.

As my representative, I trust that you will consider my concerns and raise them with your colleagues in Parliament. I also request that you keep me informed about any initiatives or discussions related to Bill C-11 and its implementation, as I am deeply invested in ensuring that our digital landscape remains open, diverse, and respectful of individual choices.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your response and continued efforts to protect our fundamental rights and promote a thriving Canadian media industry.


[Your Name]