July 14, 2022
It’s July. Time for summer projects.
Canadian YouTuber and Washington Post columnist J.J. McCullough has a summer DIY: rallying fellow YouTubers to fight Bill C-11.
McCullough was the star of the show on behalf of the Conservative Party during Parliamentary Committee hearings on the Online Streaming Act last month (sheepishly acknowledged in this video on June 4th which six weeks later has nearly 500,000 streams.)
Since then McCullough has made more videos about C-11 and is asking fellow YouTubers and his 800,000 subscribers not to bother with petition-signing but concentrate on mobilizing public opinion against the Bill through YouTube’s network.
If you haven’t caught his act yet, McCullough posts vlogs about C-11, Canadian nationalism, and all manner of politics and popular culture. A gifted explainer, he salts his narratives with libertarian tropes and irreverent cheek.
No doubt the cheek has helped him earn him a bigger audience. When he appeared before the Heritage Committee, he scolded the Liberals for tabling a Bill that would enable autocrats like Hungary’s Viktor Orban to censor their media because, well, Canada did it first. A few logical leaps taken, but quotable as heck.
The insouciance also sees him pushing boundaries like proposing “Quebecreïch” as the name of a sovereign Québec should Canada break apart.
As part of his summer project to evangelize against C-11 he recently appeared on another YouTuber’s channel, the Gary Klutt show, where he aired it out on C-11 for an hour.
After briefly discussing controversial “discoverability” provisions he and other C-11 opponents criticize, McCullough said the Bill would also “mandate Canadian content quotas and Canadian genre quotas” on YouTube.
That is misleading, to choose my words carefully. The Bill exempts You Tube and other uncurated social media platforms from CanCon exhibition requirements like those in place for television and radio. The Bill also exempts social media platforms from any regulation of what YouTubers like McCullough can say, unlike TV or radio which are governed by “abusive comment” and “misinformation” codes.
McCullough also sought to stoke any resentments YouTubers might be feeling about “old media” protecting their parochial interests while continuing to air unwatchable CanCon every evening on television (his words, not mine).
The “old guard” is so jealous of the new media, McCullough said in earnest, they want to regulate YouTube so that it becomes “less attractive” and less distinct from conventional Canadian television.
This inspired his host to chime in that old media is “just like Walmart,” supporting minimum wage laws to “minimize competition from smaller stores that can’t pay that wage.” In reply, McCullough either mumbled “yes, that’s fair” or choked on his coffee, it was difficult to tell.
As of now, what little we know about public opinion on Bill C-11 suggests that McCullough has his work cut out for him.
A Nanos poll taken in May (before much of the C-11 Parliamentary fireworks began) suggested solid support for C-11.
This should not be too surprising. A 2019 Nanos poll showed that public support for Canadian programming policies in general is very strong.
And a recent opinion poll from the University of Saskatchewan took the temperature of Canadians on freedom of expression, revealing that the rhetoric we are hearing from C-11 opponents might not be an accurate reading of Canadian opinion.
But the summer is only half over and the stream count is rising.