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Tories foil bid to cut short debate on bill to regulate online streaming services


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OTTAWA — An attempt by the Trudeau government to speed up controversial legislation to regulate online streaming services brought the House of Commons to a virtual standstill Friday.

The minority Liberal government, with the support of the Bloc Québécois, had hoped to pass a motion to impose time allocation on a Commons committee that has been studying Bill C-10 since February.

But Conservative MPs, who’ve been holding up the bill at committee over fears that it could wind up regulating what Canadians can post on social media, used procedural manoeuvres to prevent the motion being debated or put to a vote.

It was not clear Friday whether the government will try again next week.

Friday’s fracas included Conservative MPs raising repeated points of order over the validity of the motion and accusing Deputy Speaker Alexandra Mendes, a Liberal MP, of not acting impartially in ruling that the motion was “perfectly legitimate.”

The bill would bring global online streaming giants, such as Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime, under the auspices of the Broadcasting Act, requiring them to promote Canadian content and to financially support Canadian cultural industries, just as traditional broadcasters are required to do.

The bill had initially specifically excluded user-generated content but controversy erupted in April after the Liberals at the Commons heritage committee removed that exemption.

Since then, Conservatives have been on the warpath against the bill, arguing that it is a threat to free speech and would allow the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to regulate music or videos that people post to YouTube or other social media — a charge the government denies.

On Friday, Conservatives argued that the motion to limit committee study of the bill to five more hours was inadmissible, relying on a procedural rule has been used only three times in the past, the last time 20 years ago.

Mendes ruled that it was admissible and attempted to cut off further points of order to allow debate on the motion to begin. But proceedings were repeatedly interrupted by Conservative MPs raising yet more points of order and by those participating virtually talking over the recognized speaker, making it impossible for interpreters to translate the proceedings.

“This is an illegitimate debate,” Conservative MPs said repeatedly.

“It’s astounding that debate is being censored on censorship,” one said.

The time allotted for debate on the motion ran out and, after question period, a vote was required to resume it. Conservative MPs dragged that out as well, with 22 of them saying they’d had technical issues registering their votes electronically. Normally, only a handful of MPs experience such problems.

Conservatives then resumed their points of order on the motion and on Mendes’ earlier attempts to let debate on the motion proceed.

Lethbridge MP Rachel Harder blamed Mendes for allowing the proceedings to devolve into chaos.

“When I rose in this House and I called point of order, you immediately rolled your eyes at me,” Harder complained, calling Mendes’ conduct “incredibly disrespectful and a disregard for democracy.”

“When you fail to show respect and honour to each and every member on the floor of this chamber, you produce a lack of decorum because chaos will ensue where there is no respect and where there is no mutual honour.”

Harder invited Mendes to “take the next steps forward.” She did not explain what she meant by that.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2021.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

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Canada’s Jessica Klimkait wins bronze in under-57 kg judo event

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TOKYO — Canada’s Jessica Klimkait has won bronze in the women’s under-57 kilogram category at the Tokyo Olympics.

The reigning world champion from Whitby, Ont., defeated Kaja Kajzer of Slovenia by waza-ari in a bronze-medal match.

Klimkait missed a chance to add a gold medal to her world championship title when she lost to Sarah Leonie Cysique of France in the semifinals.

Klimkait was defeated by ippon when she was assessed a shido in the golden score period for a false attack. It was Klimkait’s third penalty of the bout, giving Cysique a berth on the gold-medal match.

Klimkait was in fine form before her semifinal loss. She defeated Poland’s Julia Kowalczyk in their quarterfinal bout at the Nippon Budokan.

The victory, her second straight via ippon, came after she beat Bulgaria’s Ivelina Ilieva in the round of 16 earlier in the day

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Mac Neil finishes first in women's 100 butterfly to capture Canada's first gold medal

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TOKYO — Swimmer Margaret Mac Neil has won Canada’s first gold medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mac Neil was seventh at the halfway point of the women’s 100-metre butterfly, but swam a strong second length to win in a time of 55.59 seconds.

Zhang Yufei of China was second and Emma McKeon of Australia finished third.

Mac Neil became Canada’s first multi-medallist in Tokyo following a silver medal in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay in the first day of finals.

The 21-year-old from London, Ont., was a surprise winner of the 100-metre butterfly at the 2019 world championship in Gwangju, South Korea, where she bested reigning Olympic champion Sarah Sjoestroem of Sweden.

Mac Neil, a senior at the University of Michigan, is also a two-time NCAA champion in freestyle and butterfly. 

She’d posted the sixth-fastest semifinal time in the 100-metre butterfly an hour before swimming the second leg of the relay in Tokyo.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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