22 Comments

I have to admit that I don't even understand the basis of the media's argument here.

I get the first principle, that Meta and Google and others get financial benefit from linking to their news stories via advertisements. (I assume the media organizations also benefit from those links, via their advertisements ... but more on that below.)

OK, so the media wants a bigger piece of that financial benefit. But, if Meta and Google stop linking, that argument goes away completely. Are the media organizations arguing that Meta and Google must be OBLIGATED to allow links to Canadian media AND pay them for it? What argument could fit both ends of that? If the media benefit from the links, their payment requirement holds no water. If they don't benefit from it, their obligation argument holds no water.

The only mechanism I can see for a basis here is the old standard reference to Canadian content. If Meta and Google have platforms available to Canadians on the internet, perhaps CanCon rules can force them to carry Canadian content for Canadian "viewers", and then force them to pay for that Canadian content. That seems to be the case with Netflix, for instance.

Is that the basis here? Canadians must be forced to see Canadian content when on Facebook or Google, so those platforms are obligated to provide that Canadian content, and then are obligated to pay for it. Is that it?

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Concur. The govt seems juvenile in the extreme. They appear this way on many issues (not just this one) — entirely naive to the point of ensuring ideology drives their policy until it runs smack into logic and other such walls of inconvenience.

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Aug 11, 2023·edited Aug 12, 2023Liked by Line Editor

If your sole insight into the spat between Canada's government and Meta and Google came from watching CP24's "coverage" of it, the only conclusion you could reach is that these bullying online platforms, for perverse but inscrutable reasons of their own, want to deny Canadians access to news, and the heroic government, blameless in the affair, is sticking up for the Canadian consumer. The fact that every 'pundit' who gets airtime echoes this line suggests there is no other side to the issue, and CP24's own financial interest in the matter is never disclosed.

I'm no expert on the convolutions of ministerial politics, but I'm a retired reference librarian with a lifelong interest in access to information issues, and the state of the information commons is of natural concern to me. Yet the ideological capture of Canada's legacy media institutions, and their disgraceful failure to meet even the most basic standards of journalistic responsibility, has me wondering how much of value I'd actually be missing if my access to their offerings was abridged. The sad truth is that they simply no longer qualify as reliable information sources. While in principle I should care deeply about their fate, for historical reasons if not for others, in practice the information commons has moved beyond them--and the government's ill-conceived Brinkmanship may have unintentionally accelerated their decline into irrelevance. What the federal government and their media allies seem to share in this case is an absurdly inflated sense of their own importance and ability to shape 'reality' for Canadians. That the silos they evidently inhabit could still remain so hermetically sealed in 2023 is astonishing: it's as if the vast realm of online information resources has no existence for them. (Is there any evidence Minister Champagne has ever deigned to notice The Line? How about anybody at CP24?)

I know this is a different issue than the one of ministerial responsibility raised in the article. But Canadians have to have some reason to care whether or not they can access Canadian news content online, and legacy media currently does a lamentable job of providing any. It doesn't require a graduate degree in Information Science to see why media's credibility is on life support. People are generally fairly adept at discerning when their trust is being abused and their intelligence insulted.

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"It makes us look like some cheap, politically petty little kleptocracy run by a collection of self-serving narcissists." I mean, doesn't that pretty much describe Trudeau, Telford and Butts?

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What do you call a country that is more and more becoming like a banana republic (or at least more like Argentina) but run in that direction by the long time establishment?

Man this country would be the best in the world, if only we didn't have such a mediocre Laurentian elite who weren't so small time and risk adverse.

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I have been wondering where all the adults are in this government for quite some time.

Francois-Phillipe Champagne has been touted as leadership material by Warren Kinsella not all that long ago: https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/kinsella-francois-philippe-champagne-aka-franky-bubbles-key-to-liberals-avoiding-extinction

Based on his recent comments as Minister, lets sincerely hope Warren is wrong that he is an heir apparent to the Liberal top job. There are two ways to view his completely inappropriate comments:

1. He knows they are inappropriate but doesn't care.

2. He doesn't know they are inappropriate because he is not up to the job of a Minister of the Crown.

The first scenario is chilling, because it is another clear example that we are a Chokecherry Republic (no bananas grow in Canada, but chokecherries grow throughout our nation) that is rapidly pushing away our allies around the world as well as foreign investment.

The second scenario seems most likely, as it is consistent with the rest of the clown show cabinet that reflects the (lack of) real world expertise of the PM himself, but remains chilling to contemplate. Meta and Google might do more than simply stop linking to news in Canada, it may choose to forego our Chokecherry Republic altogether as a bad business bet for more of their products and services - and it won't end there.

My point is, these types of gaffes/intentional intimidations from the PM and Cabinet are rapidly turning us into an international laughingstock and a pariah state for investment.

I'm sure the Conservative 'government in waiting' has its own share of clowns should they actually be able to overcome the Liberal-NDP coalition (let's call it what it actually is) but at this point I really hope central and eastern Canadians start to realize we may not have any choice as a nation but to throw the current clown show out and see if the new clowns can reverse course and correct some of the nonsense that currently exisits in our 'governance'.

If this government is again elected (majority or minority) I seriously fear for the future of Canada and its beleaguered people. We are edging closer to the Venezualan example every year.

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Meta is exactly correct in discontinuing Canadian news. Politicall ineptitude reigns supreme in Ottawa.

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Just too true! Hard to imagine once these lines are crossed any successor government respecting them. We are going down a path where objective decision making, however flawed, is not to be tolerated and all administrative decision making politicized.

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Remember "just not ready"? I guess the silent majority and swing voters weren't paying attention 15 yrs ago....and clearly still aren't. This is what happens when you let the "vocal minority" cat out of the bag and give them an even bigger audience by being subservient to them, and the silent majority slips further into apathetic stupor. Entirely predictable and definitely not going to end well for Canadians.

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I will not speculate about whether the actions of the Minister undermine “public trust” in the workings of an ostensibly independent tribunal - one which may be obliged to administer its home statute, free from the influence of politicians.

I will say that, as I understand it, this is a setting in which the politicians don’t get to tell the tribunal what outcome to reach; and, by inference, they also shouldn’t be seen to be cheerleaders for one side, or the other.

Just like the PM shouldn’t be interfering in the conduct of a prosecution, as he did in the SNC Lavalin affaire. That was wrong.

But it is not only “the public”, that should be concerned. It is also the party in the litigation, who is “dis-favored” by the politician.

Can that party get a “fair hearing”, when the Minister has become a cheerleader?

And is there a reasonable apprehension that the adjudicator will be “biased” in favour of doing what makes the politicians happy, and, incidentally (totally speculatively of course) smooths the way for the adjudicator’s own personal reappointment?

Especially given all of the handwringing about the alleged “bias” of David Johnson.

However, it is important to understand that this not a new problem for administrative law - where tribunals are typically populated by appointees who (unlike judges) have no “security of tenure” beyond the term of their appointment.

Accordingly, if there really is a problem of “apprehension of bias”, then there is a legal remedy for it in the Courts; because the rule of law guarantees a degree of institutional independence, even for adjudicators who do not have the life-tenure.

More disappointing is the general ineptitude and arrogance of a government whose handiwork may undermine both the interests of the legacy media and the interests of new media, like The Line, who depend upon the internet and subscriptions.

Moreover, in the real world: which would most people rather have, Google or Justin Trudeau’s government? Which provides more instrumental value? And which would be more lamented if it disappeared?

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Excellent article, I agree wholeheartedly.

I appreciate your opinion.

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If the media wants to get paid for their content shared on social media the they should install paywalls. Media are stuck on monthly subscriptions, but it seems to me a reasonable payment for article’s read rather than long term subscriptions would benefit everyone and show the media what information was actually beneficial. If everyone would talk like adults maybe this could even be accomplished through Meta and Google.

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This is indeed a cheap trick. Why on earth was the govt “surprised” by the Meta reaction? The latter give free publication to Cdn media around the nation and the world — and the media with govt support want them to pay for that?! Ludicrous — and a clear case of magical thinking.

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It so happens that as an adult I acquired a very strong dislike of censorship of any kind. I followed the discussions - and often the lack of them - re. what became Bill 18 from the start. Now I enjoy soooo muuuuch to see the Liebranos stewing in their own juice, in a pot of their casting, on a bonfire they themselves built and lit. I hope they stew in this a long, long time. Sarc on "Canadians may read only what we the Liebranos, Canada's Natural Governing Party, allow them to read", sarc off. Echos of Pravda, Moskva edition.

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founding

I just posted this comment to a related article that will appear in The Mop and Pail on the first Friday in September ...

FIRST, a cut-and-paste of the first two paragraphs from the writer ...

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Ottawa published regulations Friday that it hoped would defuse a tense standoff with tech giants over Bill C-18, and persuade Meta to stop blocking Canadians’ access to news.

But Meta made it clear that the regulations, which set a cap on how much the platform and Google must pump into Canada’s news industry each year, would not be enough for it to come back to the bargaining table and restore Canadians’ access to news.

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SECOND, my comment ... after I switched-out "dumbass" for "hapless/helpless" ...

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Those first two paragraphs pretty-well illustrate where the journalist is "coming from" with this report. Them tech giants are not "blocking Canadians’ access to news", so how can they "restore Canadians’ access to news".

Could it be possible that we hapless/helpless Canadians haven't yet figured out how to go to the internet websites of our country's news providers.

All while our exciting new self-sufficient news-related start-ups (see the stars on Substack) are now dealing with restricted exposure to possible subscribers.

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