A senator behind amendments to Bill C-11, which aimed to protect user-generated content, says if the internet censorship law passes, it would lead to a “public relations nightmare” for the federal government. 

Senators Paula Simons and Julie Miville-Dechêne introduced an amendment in December which would in effect exempt ordinary users from the regulatory scope of the law. Earlier this week, the Liberal government rejected those amendments.

“We still think it offered the government an elegant escape from what is going to be, I think, a public relations nightmare and a policy blunder,” Simons told the Toronto Star.  

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez claimed that the amendments would “affect the Governor in Council’s ability to publicly consult on, and issue, a policy direction to the (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) to appropriately scope the regulation of social media services with respect to their distribution of commercial programs, as well as prevent the broadcasting system from adapting to technological changes over time.”

Rordiguez also accused the proposed amendments of making “loopholes.” 

“I certainly fought for this amendment, in a way frankly, that I never have before as a senator,” said Simons. 

“We’re still trying to figure out what we do next, because I don’t think either of us is really prepared to just shrug and say, ‘Oh, well, we did our best.’”

Bill C-11 critic and University of Ottawa Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law Michael Geist said earlier this week that Ottawa’s decision to not accept the amendments betrayed their true intent with the law. 

“In doing so, [Heritage Minister Pabloe Rodriguez] has left no doubt about the government’s true intent with Bill C-11: retain power and flexibility to regulate user content,” wrote Geist.

“On its way to rejecting the concerns of thousands of Canadian creators and dismissing the fears of authors such as Margaret Atwood and Senator David Adams Richards, its real mantra is platforms are in and user content regulation is in.”