The Trudeau government’s online censorship law passed the final stage of voting in the Senate, received royal assent and became law on Thursday evening.
Bill C-11, which updates Canada’s Broadcasting Act, will subject digital content creators to regulation by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Senators voted 52-16 in support of the bill becoming law.
Critics of the bill have argued that Bill C-11 will allow the government to interfere with the algorithms of content that Canadians are able to consume online. The government claims that the bill will not apply to individuals who post on social media.
“Today, we are standing up for our stories, our artists, our producers and our creators. We’re standing up so that Canadians have even more opportunities to see themselves in what they watch and listen to,” Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Thursday in a statement.
A previous Senate amendment to exempt user-generated content from the bill was rejected by senators on Wednesday evening.
“The fact that we’ve spent so much time and deliberation on this legislation isn’t justification to now pack it in after one round,” said Conservative Senator Leo Housakos.
“All that the Senate did was to take the government up on its claim and to test its commitment. But when put to the test, the government failed. It effectively declared that it would continue to reserve the right to permit the CRTC to regulate user-generated content if required,” said Senator Don Plett.
Senators voted 47-17 against insisting the amendment be included in the bill.
Earlier this month, documents from the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada show that the agency pressured Facebook and Twitter to delete a Toronto Sun article that criticized the refugee determination system.
There were 214 instances of federal staff members asking social media companies to remove content between January 2020 and February 2023.
In March, the Liberal government struck down debate in the House of Commons on Bill C-11 in order to force the legislation through Parliament.
The Bloc Quebecois and the NDP have supported the Liberal government’s push to get the bill passed into law.
Famed Canadian authors Margaret Atwood and David Adams Richards are among novelists who have warned against Bill C-11.
“That what George Orwell says we must resist is a prison of self-censorship,” Richards said during a speech in Canada’s Senate, where he sits as a Senator. “This bill goes a long way to construct such a prison.”
Margaret Atwood shared the video in support of Richards’ speech, saying that it “needs a listen.”
The CRTC will now be required to develop regulations following consultations with the public.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that C-11 has received royal assent and has become law.