Catching Up on Heritage Committee hears its last C-18 witness, on C-11 the Senate has heard 124 and still counting – the skinny on Rogers-Shaw – Musk’s hellscape.

Meta’s Kevin Chan threatens MPs with a blackout of Canadian news on Facebook.

November 5, 2022

There was no round-up last weekend because I could not get near a computer. So there’s catching up to be done.

Both Bills C-18 (the “FaceGoogle” Online News Act) and C-11 (the Online Streaming Act) were on the boil, at the Commons Heritage and the Senate Transportation & Communications committees respectively.

The Commons Committee heard its last witnesses on C-18 yesterday afternoon (and will debate amendments beginning November 18th). posted three reports on MP deliberations:

The first post was written October 27th in the aftermath of Facebook’s threat to shut down Canadian news in hopes of intimidating Canadian MPs, titled  “Must it be war? A peace proposal for C-18.” The post recommends several amendments.

The second post is an account of Facebook’s ensuing appearance before the Heritage Committee on October 28th where Global Policy Chief Kevin Chan repeated the threat and got an angry response from most MPs…. followed by the cringeworthy supplication of Facebook representatives by CPC MP Marilyn Gladu.  It was so bad that Toronto Sun columnist Brian Lilley wrote a column questioning the Conservatives’ support for Big Tech.

The third post covering the November 1st hearing delves into the debate over “link taxes,” the plight of small publishers, as well as the Conservatives’ proposal to ban news outlets CTV, City-TV or the CBC from receiving compensation for their news content from Facebook and Google. 

On November 3rd a story appeared in the Globe and Mail noting Heritage MPs are likely to amend C-18 to cover more small news organizations, presumably by relaxing the eligibility criterion of “at least two journalists employed.” There’s also an op ed in the National Post and Le Devoir from Emma MacDonald of the Australian Minderoo Institute describing how her public interest group provided resources to small publishers who successfully negotiated as a group with Big Tech.

At yesterday’s hearing, CPC MP Kevin Waugh and Internet activist Michael Geist went all in against including major TV news organizations in the Bill: here’s video footage of what McGill University’s Taylor Owen had to say about that during his appearance before the Committee.

As for C-11, after 20 days of hearings the Senate Committee may be suffering from what described as “witness exhaustion” (124 so far) although we haven’t reached the point yet of an obvious filibuster. 

This week’s hearing raised at least two important issues. The first is what is described in a contribution to as the Senators’ surprising disinterest in a Unifor amendment to remedy C-11’s neglect of local TV news. 

The other, which appears to have grabbed the Committee’s attention, is C-11 massively expanding cabinet powers over almost every aspect of broadcasting regulation, including Internet broadcasting. You can expect a post on that early next week.

Turning to other matters,  if you want to learn more about what the Competition Bureau’s dogged opposition to the Rogers-Shaw merger is all about, read one of the best pieces of business journalism of the year by the Globe’s Tim Kiladze.

And lastly, you might already know that Elon Musk fired half of Twitter’s workforce by e-mail notice. So if you want a good weekend read at Musk’s expense on his hellscapish future, try this from the Verge.


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Howard Law

I am retired staff of Unifor, the union representing 300,000 Canadians in twenty different sectors of the economy, including 10,000 journalists and media workers. As the former Director of the Media Sector and as an unapologetic cultural nationalist, I have an abiding passion for public policy in Canadian media.

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