Question to Senator Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate, on the Heritage Committee’s recommendation to tax broadband Internet services.
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question today is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
In December 2016, the CRTC, Canada’s telecom regulator, declared broadband internet a basic telecommunications service. The national regulator announced a strategy to boost internet service and speeds in rural and isolated areas.
The chair of the CRTC said:
The future of our economy, our prosperity and our society — indeed, the future of every citizen — requires us to set ambitious goals, and to get on with connecting all Canadians for the 21st century.
Just today, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the House of Commons recommended a 5 per cent tax on broadband distribution to help fund Canada’s media industries. In the election campaign, the government committed not to impose a Netflix tax and declared that this proposal is nonsense. Taxpayers already received bad news in the last budget regarding tax increases. We can think of the automatic tax increases on alcohol that we discussed in the last days in the Senate. I agree with the CRTC’s view that connecting all Canadians coast to coast to coast is essential for the prosperity and growth of the economy of this country.
So my question is simple. Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree that any additional tax on broadband services or a Netflix tax will be bad for Canadian taxpayers and will go against the objective of preparing Canadians for the economy of the 21st century?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and I want to confirm that this Government of Canada will not impose a 5 per cent tax on broadband services. In the fall, the minister responsible, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, will outline a new approach to growing Canada’s creative sector, one that supports both creators and the public at large, and is focused on the future.