Online News Act

An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada

Sponsor

Pablo Rodriguez  Liberal

Status

Second reading (House), as of May 13, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-18.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Bill C-18—Notice of Time Allocation MotionOnline News ActGovernment Orders

May 20th, 2022 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, for the record, in response to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, as the shadow minister responsible for Bill C-18, I was not consulted on time allocation for this bill.

Bill C-18—Notice of Time Allocation MotionOnline News ActGovernment Orders

May 20th, 2022 / 1:10 p.m.
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Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas Ontario

Liberal

Filomena Tassi LiberalMinister of Public Services and Procurement

Madam Speaker, an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-18, An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

Furthermore, I am tabling government responses to Questions Nos. 461 to 464.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 19th, 2022 / 3:10 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will associate myself with my hon. colleague in wishing all members a productive week in their constituencies as the weather improves and we are able to participate more and more in events.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the House for the important progress that has been made on our legislative program over the last week. I know we have had a lot of late nights, but we are seeing a lot of important legislation being adopted, so I am appreciative of the House and the work it is doing.

This evening we will consider, in committee of the whole, the estimates of the Department of Public Works and Government Services. Tomorrow it is our intention to call Bill C-13, regarding the Official Languages Act. I would also like to inform the House that we will be tabling supplementary estimates tomorrow.

When we come back from working in our constituencies during the week that was aforementioned, we will be entering into the most intensive part of the parliamentary calendar, as we look toward the end of June. On Monday we will return to second reading of Bill C-18, respecting online news remuneration. The second estimates debate, this time for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, will take place that evening as well. Tuesday shall be an allotted day, and I will be in further communication with the members opposite about additional business for that week, including our intention to hold a debate on the procedures of the House pursuant to Standing Order 51.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this fundamental and very important discussion on how a federal, provincial or other government can support journalism and media outlets in our communities, cities, towns and regions across the country.

This is the kind of bill that makes the NDP say, “finally”. Finally, the government is doing something about this issue. It was high time. Unfortunately, as is too often the case with the Liberals, we had to push them for years before they agreed to do the right thing.

We saw it with the broadcasting bill, the official languages bill and with dental care and pharmacare, which are coming. We also saw it with the anti-scab bill, which is part of our agreement and is supposed to be introduced next year.

We always have to push them. In this case, is it too late for some media outlets? The answer is yes. The government is backpedalling, which is too bad. It is trying to salvage something from the wreckage.

Taking this approach and trying to shore up this fundamental pillar of our democracy—local, regional and national media—is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, that observation was made several years ago. Indeed, this crisis has existed for years now; newsrooms have been closing and jobs have been lost, and this has real consequences.

Democracy does not work without this fourth power, without this counter-power, this check and balance that is professional independent media. I will come back to the idea of what is a media outlet, what is a reporter, what is a journalist and what is real journalism versus propaganda or disinformation. This is so important.

It has long been said that there are three main pillars of power in our society: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. However, without the counter-power of journalistic work, there is no real democracy. It is important to establish this from the outset, so that we know exactly what we are talking about.

It is equally important to talk about web giants. They prey on journalistic work. They are simultaneously voracious and greedy. They are parasitic, in the sense that they will scoop up news and feed it to the news aggregators on their websites.

Many web giants do that. They literally steal real journalism, real articles and real news, and they put it on their websites. When people click, web giants cash in. They do not pay for that. They are essentially stealing other people's work.

Someone else does the essential work, and web giants do not pay a penny to take an article from a regional news source, from La Presse, Radio-Canada, Le Devoir or whatever, and put it on their news site. They do nothing. They have no newsroom of their own, and they steal other people's work without offering any financial compensation whatsoever.

At least Bill C‑18 tackles the problem and offers a solution. I am not saying it is perfect or even as good as it could be. It can be improved, but it is worth exploring.

It is important that we, as parliamentarians, address this issue. It is important that we consider these concerns and look at what we can do to improve things so that we can keep this check and balance, this counter-power, in our democracy here in Quebec, here in Canada.

We need to protect the employees, the workers who are experts at reporting the news, digging into things, poking around, asking questions, contradicting us and sometimes even putting pressure on the government, opposition parties and all elected representatives. That is exactly as it should be, and it has to stay that way.

Unfortunately, we are in an ecosystem where selling news is not necessarily the most lucrative. We have seen a reduction, crumbling or erosion of the capacity of newsrooms to ask the real questions and cover what is happening in politics, but also in the economy, in society or in the cultural milieu, for example.

I think the government had to do something. We in the NDP have been saying for years that we needed to do something and support wages, newsrooms and businesses. Furthermore, the balance of power needs to be re-established between the web giants, whose aggregators pick up articles on which they have put no work, effort, human or financial resources whatsoever, and all those who are struggling to survive by asking the right questions and writing relevant articles that make society think and move us forward collectively.

We have heard a lot about local and regional news. It is absolutely fundamental. I asked my Bloc Québécois colleague a question a moment ago.

I have the example of Laval in mind, which is closer to me. For years, Laval did not have a real newsroom, a real media outlet capable of covering municipal politics. Laval is not far enough away from Montreal to have its own media ecosystem, its own newsroom or its own weekly newspapers. On the other hand, Laval is not close enough to Montreal for Montreal media to be truly interested in it. As such, for years, Laval's municipal politics were not really covered.

This situation allowed the former mayor of Laval, Gilles Vaillancourt, since charged and convicted, to embezzle public funds and commit unspeakable fraud that he profited from personally, as did his family and friends. This happened because there was practically no political opposition, no media coverage, no papers strong or independent enough and no radio stations capable of focusing on how contracts were awarded or public funds managed in Laval.

We witnessed what a media desert could lead to: impunity and no transparency. This also allows someone to think they are entitled to everything and they can do absolutely anything they want. It is important to have national journalists, but also local and regional journalists to monitor everything that is happening and all the fine people involved.

I think it is very important to point out that we absolutely must have reporters and resources abroad. These journalists can report on and explain to us what is happening abroad so that Canadians, but also elected officials, decision-makers and economic, social and political forces, are fully informed and able to react appropriately, knowing exactly what is happening in other countries around the world.

We saw this recently with the war in Artsakh, Armenia, with the exodus of the Rohingya from Myanmar, and with what is happening to the Uighurs in China. We absolutely need to know what is happening abroad. We need resources so that we can do that and so that we can have people on the ground who can tell us exactly what is happening.

I am going to take a few moments to show a little bias and say what a wonderful job I think that Radio-Canada foreign correspondents are doing. I tip my hat to them, and I think that there are a lot of people in Quebec and Canada who recognize just how important they are because they observe, analyze and tell us about what is happening abroad.

I cannot name them all, but I want to mention Marie‑Ève Bédard, Tamara Alteresco, Anyck Béraud and Jean‑François Bélanger, who, along with many others, are our eyes and ears in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Their work is absolutely essential to our understanding of the world.

As we are speaking about journalism, what happens abroad and the accountability that I spoke about earlier, I will take advantage of the forum given to me today to condemn and denounce the murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

She was killed while reporting on an Israeli army operation. She was wearing a helmet and bullet-proof vest with “Press” written on it. It was very clear that she was a journalist. For years, Shireen Abu Akleh was a revered star journalist who worked for Al Jazeera. She was killed.

The NDP condemns this murder, and we are asking for an independent investigation to find out exactly what happened and who was responsible for this act. I believe that many of my colleagues agree with our position.

There were many accounts on the ground. It is rather difficult to hit someone in the face with a stray bullet. Unfortunately, that is how Shireen Abu Akleh was killed. We are asking for this independent investigation, as are many other global organizations.

Yesterday, I moved a motion in the House to condemn the murder of this Palestinian journalist and to ask for an independent investigation. I am very sorry that this motion was not adopted. I believe it was the least we could do.

I am also concerned about what happened next. Israeli police raided the home where the family was gathered and tore down the Palestinian flags that were there. These people just learned of the death of their daughter, sister, friend, niece or cousin. It is absolutely appalling.

It did not stop there. Today, we saw extremely disturbing images from Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral in which Israeli police used batons on those carrying the coffin of the murdered journalist. They waded into the crowd, pushing people back, which nearly caused the coffin to fall. That is indecent and extremely violent. We want to know who did that and we are calling for an independent investigation.

Not only was this woman killed, but the police then showed up at the family home and were pushing people who were gathered for her burial. That is absolutely unbelievable. Who is responsible for that? Who ordered this assault on a grieving crowd, on the family and friends of this journalist who was recently killed while doing her job?

There are a lot of questions we need to ask about the safety of journalists all over the world and about their ability to do their jobs properly. There are also a number of questions we need to ask about the Palestinian territories illegally occupied by the Israeli army. Palestinian or foreign journalists must be able to do their jobs safely and report on the facts of what is going on.

We want to know what the consequences are for the military occupation of a territory, for stolen land, for destroyed homes and for illegal colonies being established very quickly. Thousands of new homes are being built on occupied territory in the West Bank, in defiance of UN resolutions. People on the ground have to tell us what is happening there. If they are killed, there will be no one left to tell us what is going on. The only version we will get will be the official version of government authorities. That is not what we want.

Journalists are being killed in Ukraine as a result of the brutal, illegal invasion by Vladimir Putin's Russia. This regime has killed journalists and political opponents in its own country. It is now targeting and killing journalists in Ukraine. We vehemently condemn these murders, as we should. However, when a Palestinian journalist is killed, there is radio silence.

People have to be respectful, equitable and consistent. Journalism is important everywhere: in Ukraine, Russia, Palestine, Israel, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, France, England, the United States, Canada and Quebec. It is important everywhere and for everyone. I think it is very important to say, loudly and clearly, that the NDP wants to support a free and independent press that can do its work safely. Journalists need to be able to do their work without being targeted by a regime that attacks them and sometimes even kills them or threatens their safety.

The bill before us today, Bill C‑18, is very important because, as I said earlier, it seeks to rectify the plundering of journalists' work and news content. This has severely damaged our ability to tell our communities' stories. For years, the NDP has been working with journalists' federations and journalists' unions to bring this idea forward. Finally, it is happening. Is it too late? Not for those still in the newsroom, but sadly, there may be many who have already left the industry.

I want to share some numbers. In Canada, 450 news media outlets closed between 2008 and 2021. That is nothing to sneeze at. In addition, 78% of people access the news online, often through these major companies' aggregators. Also, a mere 13% of news companies' revenue comes from online advertising or subscriptions.

However, Google and Facebook took in nearly $10 billion in revenue from Canadian online advertising in 2020. Google and Facebook combined account for 80% of the revenue. For years, the government stopped buying advertising in our weeklies and local or regional newspapers. Instead, it was buying advertising from Facebook and Google. Not only did this do nothing to aid journalism, but public funds were being used to pay these large foreign companies, often American, to promote the news that the federal government wanted to promote. It is absolutely unbelievable.

There were two ways the federal government failed to help newsrooms. It allowed them to slowly disappear as a result of the loss of revenue they were experiencing, and it also failed to provide direct support or assistance by buying advertising. Subscriptions and newsstand sales are not what make newspapers profitable, and that has been the case for years. It is the advertising revenue that makes media profitable. That said, ad revenues have changed. They are no longer generated by local radio stations, weeklies or dailies. They are generated by websites. These websites, most of which are owned by large media outlets, steal the work of journalists.

The Liberal government finally listened to reason and thought it might be time to address the problem, since we had lost over 450 newsrooms and hundreds of jobs. We looked at what was being done overseas. The Australian model forces negotiation between the media who produce the news and the web giants who use it, put it on their platforms and distribute it.

The possibility of collective bargaining is really important to the NDP. Local or regional independent media must not be left to face the giants like Facebook, Google and others on their own. They need to be able to come together to speak with one voice and get fair deals. That is really the crux of the matter and what is going to be extremely difficult to hear.

These agreements also need to be public and transparent, because it is important to be able to compare situations. It is important to know exactly what the web giant paid for the use of certain content, for a given percentage, for a given quantity of articles, for each year, in a given market and with a given audience. If that information is not available, everyone will negotiate blindly and it will be extremely difficult. Everyone will be at a huge disadvantage.

There needs to be an equitable power relationship, so these agreements need to include collective bargaining and transparency clauses. It is not enough to say that it is a trade secret, or some such thing. We must ensure that this is known and public, so that people can make comparisons and be fairly compensated for the use of their work.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 12:55 p.m.
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Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, when we look at Bill C-18, we see it is very similar to Bill C-11. We know that these are very important pieces of legislation that need to be implemented into law as expeditiously as possible in order to protect, with respect to Bill C-11, Canadian culture and, with respect to Bill C-18, smaller organizations and news outlets.

I am curious if the member can comment on the importance of that and making sure it gets done, and perhaps on the amendment that the Conservatives brought forward. They brought forward an amendment that would basically strip out this entire bill and send the issue to committee. Is that not what we are doing right now? Are we not debating this at second reading to send it to committee anyway?

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 12:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see more members in the House and I will continue my speech.

In such vast territories, it is hard to cover local news properly. Imagine how much time it takes journalists to travel around, especially when they are alone.

The reality is that local media are not covering all of the news anymore. The media can no longer rely on ad sales, which are plummeting. The share of ad revenue that traditionally went to news organizations is dwindling year after year, and the big print and broadcast ad contracts are no longer going to news organizations, but rather to companies like Google and Facebook. News organizations are losing out on revenue streams, and many have been forced to close.

What is most alarming is that the lack of local news and feedback will hurt society as a whole. Knowing what is going on in the community is a fundamental part of democracy.

I can provide the figures for how advertising money is allocated these days. I will also give some arguments in support of taking a strong stance against giants like GAFAM.

The government has failed to impose regulations for far too long. If it thought that web giants like GAFAM would regulate themselves and be sensitive to our small communities, it was wrong. No matter what the web giants may say or do, their actions are motivated by greed, a bit like the oil companies, who care only about making a profit for their shareholders.

It takes courage to act. We saw what happened in Australia and the consequences of that. These companies have known our perspective on this for a long time, and they are well aware of the path they need to take. They no longer have a choice. There has been a lot of pressure for a long time. If we pass this bill quickly, they will no longer really have a choice. Either they get on board, or the government will get involved.

Why should ordinary people care about the passage of this bill? They should care because it affects them. We first need to realize that journalists make an invaluable contribution. Day after day, they do a tremendous job even though they do not always have proper funding. Their future is uncertain and, for them, every day counts.

Local media is increasingly important to our regional and rural communities. Local media and newspapers are the heart of the regional media ecosystem. Reporting on the stories of local people, or issues that affect them, requires journalists who are present in those communities, who live the community's experiences.

From sports and arts stories to investigative reports and the fight against corruption, local media issues are a particularly important part of the lives of people in these communities. Simply put, if web giants like GAFAM share news on their platforms, it is because they are getting something out of it. They are profiting handsomely, and unfairly, off all the people who write the news. They are shamelessly exploiting the news.

We need to take matters into our own hands, because playtime is over. Web giants do not have the same journalistic rigour. To maintain a healthy environment with a variety of opinions and the ability to distinguish truth from falsehood, we must allow professional journalists to continue to do their work, and give media companies a chance to regularly show us the product of that diligent work. That needs to happen everywhere, not just in major cities.

Facebook and Google are not going to send a reporter to cover a Russell Cup win by the Ville-Marie Pirates or the Temiscaming Titans. They leave that to CKVM, TV Témis, RNC Média and TVA Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Facebook and Google are not going to send a reporter to ask Rouyn-Noranda municipal authorities about construction delays for the aquatic facility. They leave that to the Rouyn-Noranda paper, Le Citoyen.

Facebook and Google are not going to cover all the Amos festivals. They leave that to MédiAT, CHUN FM, TV Témis and Abitibi-Ouest community television with Gaby Lacasse.

In Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Radio-Canada is the one that gets the local MP on air for an interview to keep him accountable and let people know what he is doing.

The media crisis hit print media in Abitibi-Témiscamingue hard. As recently as 2017, our paper, Le Citoyen, still had 15 or so reporters covering our territory. Now the local weekly has just five of them left, and the content has been affected too.

The 60-page papers that used to be on every doorstep have thinned to 20. The Témiscamingue paper, Le Reflet, stopped printing paper editions because of the drop in ad revenue. Even the Énergie radio station cut two positions; its newsroom now has just two reporters covering Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

Take the RCM of Abitibi-Ouest, for example. A few years ago, there were two reporters permanently based there. Now there is just one. That might not seem like a big deal, but it means that a lot of what goes on in the 3,415 square kilometres and 21 municipalities that make up the RCM just does not get covered for want of time and staff.

Losing one reporter position might not seem like a big deal, but it is a monumental loss for small communities in Quebec. One less member of the media means articles and investigative reports do not get written. Events do not get covered. Voices are not heard. This affects the vitality of our communities.

That is why Bill C-18 is important. It is time for GAFAM to share revenues with local media. This money is important to boosting our regional media. It could help local media keep and perhaps even hire journalists, who can then ask us questions and report on the work we do here in the House of Commons. This is called accountability for all politicians.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has provided an opt-in mechanism for GAFAM. Either they take a forward-looking approach and immediately begin reaching agreements with the various news companies, or the government will say that it will take care of them. It is up to GAFAM to decide.

I also welcome the fact that, with Bill C‑18, the government wants to leave room for independence and transparency in the agreements. Once this is done, GAFAM will have to file the various agreements with the CRTC. The CRTC will be responsible for confirming that the following conditions are met: the agreements include fair compensation; part of that compensation is used to produce local, regional and national news content; the agreements guarantee freedom of expression; they contribute to the vitality of the Canadian news marketplace; they support independent local news; and they reflect Canadian diversity and hopefully Quebec's cultural and linguistic diversity.

If we look at the eligibility criteria for news businesses, only those designated as qualified Canadian journalism organizations under subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act will be able to receive compensation when their news content is lifted. Non-Canadian businesses that meet criteria similar to qualified Canadian journalism organizations will also be eligible.

The requirement to employ two journalists is another obstacle for some of the more remote communities in Quebec. Think about it. Some hyper-local media outlets rely on just one person to produce all the news. These media outlets would not be eligible for this program as it currently stands. This is an obstacle to the development of our local media outlets, which are capable of being nimble and proactive.

Since I have the opportunity to speak to Bill C‑18, I would also like to draw my colleagues' attention to the fact that regional and community media will not see a difference or any clear improvement in their economic condition. I would like to know if the government is planning for additional measures. I would like to have answers to these questions.

News Media Canada, the voice of Canada's news media industry, has already stated that it would like us to review the eligibility criteria so that daily papers employing only one journalist are entitled to receive their share of the pie as well. This is a more accurate reflection of the reality of the media in remote areas such as Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

Let us also look at other provisions of Bill C‑18.

I see that the Minister of Canadian Heritage has included provisions to exempt the parties involved in these negotiations from certain conditions of the Competition Act and to require the parties to negotiate in good faith. The bill prohibits a platform from using such means as reducing or prioritizing access to a platform in retaliation or as a negotiating tactic. It allows news businesses to file complaints against the GAFAM with the CRTC if they notice platforms behaving in such a way. There are penalties and fines for the various entities subject to Bill C‑18.

The Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this bill.

We had been waiting for Bill C‑18, and the bill to amend the Broadcasting Act, Bill C-11, for several years. When I read Bill C‑18, we still did not know how it would be received by media industry groups. We are continuing our discussions, and we will certainly have ideas about how to improve Bill C‑18.

There are many similarities between the Australian law and the Canadian bill. As in Australia, we expect that web giants like GAFAM will step up their efforts to influence, not to say pressure, parliamentarians and the media. I note that the government has been sensitive to the smaller players by allowing them to band together however they choose in order to negotiate, a provision that has been well received.

In Canada, the CRTC will manage the program. The money will go toward journalism, not the shareholders of a news company. I like that. The Australian law maintains confidential agreements and so does Bill C-18, but the government is giving the CRTC the role of reviewing them and checking whether they meet certain conditions that I mentioned earlier in my speech.

I want to explore some of the arguments I found by doing a little research. Let me begin with the good news. Media companies, at least some of them, are doing well thanks to some business decisions they have made. Some have even been able to hire new journalists and create additional positions. Others have gone ahead and brought in a subscription model, which does bring in some revenue. This is definitely not a cure-all, and it would still take a lot to convince me that media companies are able to keep their heads well above water.

According to a number of reports, roughly 18 Canadian journalism organizations have agreements with Meta that will provide nearly $8 million in revenue over the next three years. However, there is a caveat. Facebook says that it has contributed to Canadian media through its News Innovation Test, and that is true, but all the investments went to major Canadian media organizations. Those funds never made it to the local media in my riding or in many other Quebec ridings. That is another reason this bill is important. Without it, local media will definitely be overlooked by GAFAM. This poses a real danger to our democracy.

I want to come back to the fact that questions are also being raised about the negotiation of agreements between media outlets and web giants like GAFAM. It may be easy for large consortiums to get negotiating power, but it is a whole different story for local media outlets that serve small communities.

That is a concern for François Munger, the founder of MédiAT, who is worried that our local news creators will end up with next to nothing. I would like to remind members that the work of journalists in small communities is essential. I will do so by talking a bit about what makes local news unique and by quoting Mr. Munger, who had the courage to start his media company in 2015 in the midst of a media crisis. He said that he was starting a media company in Abitibi‑Témiscamingue because he believed in it and wanted to keep his community informed.

The local news expresses local colour and culture in the community's language. It addresses issues that get residents thinking and even taking the often necessary action to deal with issues that will affect their quality of life. The local news also reports on accomplishments that deserve to be recognized. Overall, the local news serves as a watchdog for the government and businesses. It also serves as the people's watchdog in their dealings with those entities. The local news provides information about municipal borrowing by-laws and violations and often reports on legal proceedings. We can see how important it is. The local news is who we are.

The government will have to provide immediate financial aid for small media outlets that are struggling to survive right now. The measures in Bill C‑18 will take another few months, and the media will not see one cent for at least a year. One possible solution would be for Ottawa to ensure that its ads are placed in these local media outlets that are struggling to bring in significant revenue.

It makes sense that Facebook needs content for its platform. If all the news content were cut from Facebook, there would be nothing left but viral content and entertainment. Evidently, I am not the biggest fan of influencers. To grow their user base and ad revenues, platforms such as Facebook need news. They have every interest in keeping the journalistic community alive and well.

Facebook needs to offer more engaging content, because the more eyeballs it can attract, the more advertising it can sell and the more revenue it will earn. Almost all of Facebook's revenue comes from advertising. Facebook and Google take in 80% of all online ad spending. That is where the real money is. About $193 million of their Canadian revenue is derived from content that was created by journalists and that does not belong to these companies. That is the kind of money that our news agencies could expect to get back in compensation.

In conclusion, Bill C‑18 is one of three bills from this department on the topic of modernizing our communications, and it is designed to address the dominance of multinationals. It would allow the media industry to get back to its roots and would support the industries that play a fundamental role in our democracy.

Our work is far from over, however, since the government has chosen to take small steps and will continue to do so. My Bloc Québécois colleagues have been keeping a close eye on this, and we are pleased to see that this bill includes the many proposals we made or included in our election platform. I must also say that I made promises to my constituents about these proposals, especially with respect to local and regional news media like TvcTK.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 12:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me to acknowledge the addition of a new member to my team, Jean‑François Vachon, a journalist by training. He is very well known in Abitibi—Témiscamingue, especially for his work at the newspaper Le Citoyen and with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He certainly adds value to my team. This will somewhat influence my speech, which will be interesting as it is about content in regional media. I would also like to acknowledge my friend Antoni Gilbert, who helped with the work done by my team.

Today we begin debate at second reading on Bill C-18, which requires digital platforms to negotiate agreements with news businesses. I would like to join my colleagues in saying it is about time.

However, I am in suspense because there is still much work to be done on protecting privacy on major digital platforms. This bill may be the third bill on that subject. Groups advocating for the protection of marginalized people and victims of fraud are very active, and their expectations are high.

I wonder how many people know how to get a photo taken down, for example. Great Britain is working very hard on that.

We are also starting to see impacts on competitiveness that are affecting SMEs, such as forced transfers of intellectual property in exchange for access to major digital platforms. I agree with the experts who told the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology that the Competition Act is out of sync with what is being done elsewhere in the world. Some think that this bill will deal with the web giants' major platforms once and for all, but more legislation will be needed.

With regard to Bill C‑18, I am pleased to finally see a bill compensating news businesses when their content is lifted, in other words stolen.

Unfortunately, this new bill, which was largely inspired by the Australian model, faces a rocky path. Still, I must say that it is high time we put an end to the cannibalization and dismantling of our traditional media, particularly in the regions.

In regions that are far from major centres, such as Abitibi‑Témiscamingue, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, the Lower St. Lawrence and the north shore, maintaining regional and local news services is quite challenging. These territories are huge and often sparsely populated.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-18, An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for a great speech and for moving the amendment because I do have concerns about Bill C-18, especially when we heard the parliamentary secretary talk about how there would not be any discrimination. In every other media policy that the government has brought, there has been discrimination along the political spectrum and, as the member correctly pointed out, small and medium-sized news outlets.

I would like to hear his comments on that.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 10:50 a.m.
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Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-18 sets out, in black and white, the rules that the various media players must follow to ensure much healthier competition and quality content for everyone.

It is no secret that small media outlets are in immediate need of financial assistance from the government. What does my colleague think about that?

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it certainly is an honour to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-18, the online news act.

I did not get a chance to ask the parliamentary secretary for Canadian heritage a question. He spoke a lot in his speech about the online tech giants, the Facebooks and Googles of the world, gobbling up advertising revenue and leaving small local newspapers without the same access to revenue. If I would have had a chance to ask the parliamentary secretary a question, I would have asked him why he spent $13,000 on Facebook advertising, rather than investing that in his local newspaper, the St. Catharines Standard.

Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to ask the parliamentary secretary that question, but perhaps he can come back to the House at some point and clarify why he felt the need to spend $13,000 on a tech giant, rather than on his local community newspaper.

I want to begin by stating there is a clear sense that Canada's news environment has changed dramatically, and it has changed especially significantly in the last 10 to 20 years. The Internet has changed how we do business. It has brought many changes to all aspects of our lives, our communities and how businesses operate. As these changes and disruptions have happened in the digital marketplace, they have had a very specific impact on the media industry and in particular the traditional print media industry.

As many Canadians know, the cumulative advertising dollars that are spent in Canada are now being spent more and more on online means. As these dollars move online, a smaller and smaller number of dollars are being spent on traditional advertising and print advertising, which for years and decades have been used to sustain the news industry.

Newsrooms in 2022 are far smaller than they were even a decade ago. We can contrast that even further back, to 20 to 30 years ago. Many of the newsrooms that are now operating with one or two journalists at one point operated with a dozen. I know the Speaker has a background in the media industry and will be able to reflect on the changes that have happened over these number of years. Still other newsrooms have closed entirely, and when these newsrooms close, they leave in their wake news deserts in which parts of the community, or in some cases entire communities, are left without access to reliable local news sources. These closures have particularly hurt small towns and rural communities, like those communities in many of our ridings.

Canadians rely on local news to inform their lives and help inform their decision-making at the local, regional and national levels. Whether it be the members of the parliamentary press gallery, the press galleries of the provincial legislatures or countless individual journalists who cover the goings-on at city halls and town halls in communities across our country, all of these journalists have a role to play in Canada's democratic life. In fact, a free and independent press is essential to a functioning democracy.

I draw the House's attention to one of the famous comments on a free and independent press from George Mason, one of America's founding fathers. He said, “the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.” That quotation is as true now as it was then. The freedom and ability of the press to fairly, impartially and honestly report the news to citizens of this country are absolutely essential.

That local news is struggling is not in doubt. The traditional business model that saw print publications sell advertising space in hard-copy publications worked for decades and saw successes. Small independent newspapers and large media empires alike relied on the basic practice of using this advertising space to reach the eyes of readers and help sustain their newsrooms. Now, in 2022, while the advertising model has diminished, what has not diminished is the continued need for impartial, honest and trustworthy sources of news.

The government itself has admitted that it has not yet found a solution to this problem. In fact, in his press conference after introducing the bill, the Minister of Canadian Heritage himself conceded that a significant number of news providers have closed their doors in recent years during the government's time in office. This is not only unfortunate; it is weakening our communities.

Local newspapers, radio stations and television stations bring us the stories that impact us in our daily lives. At the local level, they report the stories of community. They cover municipal councils, charitable events and fundraisers, community festivals, fall fairs and the success of our local sports teams or, in some cases, hope for the future success of these teams. Local journalism also covers the more unfortunate but nonetheless essential stories that need to be told in our communities: stories of crime, fires, floods and violence.

As I drive across the 3,500 square kilometres of Perth—Wellington, I find myself flipping through my car radio's preset stations. I want to be clear that I use my radio in my car. I do not use Spotify and I do not use satellite radio. I prefer traditional radio when I am driving, and I listen to it as I drive across my riding and from there to Ottawa. I also listen to local stations as I drive along Highway 401 or Highway 7, depending on which direction I am taking. It gives me an opportunity to hear what is going on in not only my own communities in Perth—Wellington, but those across the country.

As I drive through Perth and Wellington counties, I find myself flipping to The River, which is a non-profit entity out of Mount Forest, Ontario, that celebrates everything local and everything important to the community. I often switch to a number of the Blackburn radio stations that are present throughout southwestern Ontario given the important services and news they provide. In fact, one of the Blackburn stations is AM920 out of Wingham. I fondly remember as a child listening to AM920 and being shushed by my mother every time the “in memoriam” part came on, because we certainly did not want to miss that. To this day, it is still part of the station.

In Listowel and North Perth, we can tune in to The Ranch, the newest entrant to the news and radio market. It has quickly found an important spot in the media landscape in Listowel and North Perth and, indeed, in the northern part of Perth County. Of course, in Stratford, we can tune in to 2day FM or Juice FM to hear Jamie Cottle in the morning, and before him, local legend Eddie Matthews.

I would like to highlight the fact that the radio predecessor to 2day FM and Juice FM was CJCS 1240 AM. It was in 1945 that the CJCS commentators were providing coverage of the Perth Regiment's return from World War II. That coverage on CJCS 1240 AM inspired a young, 12-year-old boy from Stratford to begin a lifelong career in broadcasting. That young boy began working at CJCS as a high school student, and while he got his start in radio, generations of Canadians know him for his television career as Canada's most trusted news anchor. However, Stratford and Perth County will always lay claim to the fact that Lloyd Robertson got his start in our little community on the radio.

In Perth—Wellington, we also have a number of tremendous local newspapers. In Wellington County, we are lucky to have the Wellington Advertiser, which has proudly served the people of Wellington County for more than half a century. It has been recognized for its work on multiple occasions, including being named the top community newspaper in Ontario in its class by the Ontario Community Newspapers Association.

When I attended the 50th anniversary celebration for the Wellington Advertiser, I was struck by a story told by Dave Adsett, publisher of the Advertiser. He recounted how his father, Bill Adsett, the founder of the Wellington Advertiser, once had the option to save money by removing delivery to a small portion of Wellington County. He refused to do so out of principle to ensure that every citizen in Wellington County had access to the news and information contained in the Wellington Advertiser. When Bill Adsett passed away on October 5, 2021, he was rightly remembered and honoured for his lifetime of contributions to the County of Wellington.

In my hometown of Mitchell, I have been a reader of the Mitchell Advocate literally since I was able to read. I say that completely honestly. Throughout all the years that I have been reading the newspaper, Andy Bader has been working hard to bring the news and our local stories to us each and every week. Similarly, I have wonderful memories of reading The Stratford Beacon Herald, and watching as photographers like Scott Wishart chronicled the life of the community through his photos, or as Steve Rice recorded the rise and fall of any number of local sports teams.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, many local news providers have closed in the past number of years, hurting communities across Canada, including those in Perth—Wellington.

The Mount Forest Confederate, a paper that was first published in the year of Canada's Confederation, in 1867, has closed. The Arthur Enterprise News, founded before Confederation, in 1862, has closed. In 2019, the Minto Express was closed.

In Perth County, many of my constituents were shocked in 2017 when the major media giants abruptly shut down both the St. Marys Journal Argus and Stratford Gazette. The closure of the St. Marys Journal Argus was especially difficult because after 154 years as a newspaper serving the community, it was unexpectedly shut down in one single day without even the opportunity to deliver a final edition to the town's faithful readers.

Fortunately for the town of St. Marys, the St. Marys Independent, led by Stewart Grant, has stepped in to fill that void. I might add that he does so as a true public service to the communities of St. Marys, Perth South and beyond.

While these examples are local to my riding, the challenges are certainly national in scope. Today's debate is not the first time the issue of struggling local news providers has been raised. In fact, at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, we have undertaken a study of the Rogers-Shaw deal and the impact that it will have on local news. This study was initiated by my friend and colleague, the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, a former broadcaster who prided himself during his broadcasting career on delivering local news to his communities in Saskatoon and beyond.

Like many Canadians, I was disappointed to see the CRTC make a ruling to approve the sale based on certain conditions. Obviously recent events involving the Competition Bureau may alter the future of this deal, but what I found interesting and frankly disappointing about the Rogers-Shaw decision by the CRTC was its use of wishy-washy, non-committal language. In its decision, the CRTC used words such as “encouragement”, “expectations” and “reminders”, rather than taking a real stand.

Setting aside for a moment the CRTC's decision on the Rogers-Shaw deal, there is no question that the decisions made by the CRTC and other entities will have an impact on local news. The question is whether the CRTC has the capacity or the competency to actually make decisions that will improve the media landscape in Canada.

That brings me to some of the concerns we have with the bill at hand.

In the last election, there was a general consensus among the different political platforms that something should be done to help local news and journalism survive. In our Conservative platform under our former leader, the member for Durham, we made the following commitment:

Canada’s Conservatives will:

Introduce a digital media royalty framework to ensure that Canadian media outlets are fairly compensated for the sharing of their content by platforms like Google and Facebook. It will:

Adopt a made in Canada approach that incorporates the best practices of jurisdictions like Australia and France.

Include a robust arbitration process and the creation of an intellectual property right for article extracts shared on a social media platform.

Ensure that smaller media outlets are included, and that the government won’t be able to pick and choose who has access to the royalty framework.

That is what we committed to in the last election campaign.

It may surprise everyone, but we did not win that election. We came close, certainly, and we did win the popular vote, but we did not form government, to the great disappointment of my friends on the other side of the House. While we did not get to draft this legislation, it is our duty as Her Majesty's loyal opposition to review the legislation introduced by the Liberal government and provide the comments that our citizens and constituents require of us.

Let me say very clearly that Canada's Conservatives believe that news providers should be fairly compensated for the use of their content. That said, we do have questions about this particular piece of legislation. As I explained earlier, local news providers are struggling. This begs the obvious question as to whether Bill C-18 will help the newspapers and radio stations in communities like Perth—Wellington, Sarnia—Lambton, Elgin—Middlesex—London, and other rural communities and small towns across our country. Unfortunately, that is unclear.

A recent report from the Toronto Star, itself a long and distinguished media provider in this country, indicated that the Australian model on which this legislation is based may be leaving out small and medium-sized businesses. The article states, “But while major publishers and networks in Australia had struck deals with Facebook and Google, some smaller, independent outlets were finding themselves shut out from making deals of their own.”

The article goes on to quote Erin Millar, the CEO of Indiegraf, who said, “If we’re going to have this bill, how are we to design it in such a way that it doesn’t lead to the same outcomes as Australia, which is, from my perspective, really not supporting journalism?”

There are other questions that remain unanswered with this bill as well, such as why the CRTC was selected as the regulatory body to enforce and oversee the act when the CRTC does not have a history or experience in regulating online platforms. Let us not forget that the CRTC is the same entity whose chair met privately for beers with someone from one of the largest industries it regulates. However, beyond the chair's clear lack of judgment, let us remember that the CRTC has still not implemented a three-digit suicide prevention hotline more than 500 days after this House unanimously passed a motion calling for such a resource. It has also been more than 16 months since the CRTC held hearings about the licence renewal for the CBC licences. If the CRTC cannot make a decision within 16 months on what I would assume to be a fairly routine renewal, how in the world can it have the capacity and competency to do anything that is asked of it?

We also have no indication on how much revenue will be generated when this bill is enforced. Budget 2022 earmarks $8.5 million for the bureaucracy necessary to administer Bill C-18, so it is logical to ask whether the revenues generated through this bill will be greater than or less than the costs to administer it.

We have a number of other questions, including how the code of conduct will be developed and whether it will be tabled in Parliament. We have questions about what undue preference will be considered within the bill. Will non-Canadian news providers be able to benefit from the Canadian system? Why has the government not tabled a charter statement on this bill? Why was a public broadcaster included when it already received other entities? We have these questions and, as such, I think an important committee study ought to be had.

Therefore, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “Bill C-18, An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada, be not now read a second time but that the Order be discharged, the Bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.”

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 10:25 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was quite sure I was up ahead of the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, but I will not argue the point. That is virtual reality, so here we are.

I am focusing less on what Bill C-18 proposes to do. It has taken the approach of saying, as we have heard, that when information, news articles and content appear in what we might call our conventional media, the social media giants and the tech giants pay for that. However, it does not get to this new problem. Neither Bill C-11 nor Bill C-18 gets to what is now being called by our security experts “IMVE”, ideologically motivated violent extremism, which is spread through social media content. I commend to the hon. parliamentary secretary and other members a recent opinion piece by Beverley McLachlin, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Taylor Owen, the director of the Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy at McGill University.

We are not addressing the root problem here. It is a dangerous area. People want to back away from this nexus between free speech and protecting people from violent extremism. The solution I would put to the hon. member is to treat these new tech online sources, or whatever we want to call them, not as platforms but as publishers. That is what they are. They publish. We have a vast amount of common-law jurisprudence on what to do with publishing things that are false.

I put it to the hon. member that Bill C-18 and Bill C-11 do not address the threat to Canadian democracy in online disinformation.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question from the hon. member. We need to start levelling the playing field somewhere. This is an excellent start.

This deal is already in place between major media companies in Canada and Facebook and Google. It is time to ensure that there is more transparency. It is time to ensure that smaller entities will be able to get a fair deal as well. This will help level the playing field. The argument that we are making on Bill C-11 is an important argument that we are making on Bill C-18 as well.

We need to get this bill to committee and through the House as quickly as possibly, because, as we said, more media outlets are closing. We are in a crisis. We need to do what we can, and this is a model that works.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 10 a.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is wonderful. It is unfortunate we lost that minute or so, but I guess that gives me even more time to speak to my Conservative friends who do not want to hear the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, who is an hon. parliamentarian. It is disappointing. I am sure he will get an opportunity to speak going forward, but I thank my Conservative friends for allowing me to carry on and answer even more questions.

I would like to start my speech with a statement, and I hope all members agree with it: There is no real democracy without a free and independent press. A bankrupt press is not a free press. To play its fundamental role, the press needs revenue. This principle is at the core of Bill C-18, and it is at the core of our approach to supporting strong and independent journalism. What we are seeing now, more than ever, is just how important that is.

The way Canadians get their news has changed a lot. Many of us get our news through Google or Facebook, which is okay. There is nothing wrong with that, but the problem is that digital media platforms do not compensate media when they use their content. Advertising dollars have left Canadian media. In 2020, online advertising revenues in Canada were close to $10 billion, with Meta and Google taking 80% of those revenues.

The consequences for many Canadian businesses are dire. This is especially hurting Canadian media that rely on advertising to pay their journalists. Between 2008 and 2021, 450 news outlets closed across Canada. Let me repeat that: Canada now has 450 fewer news outlets, and it shows no signs of improving. Since the start of the pandemic, 64 news outlets have closed. This is a crisis.

In many regions, that means there are no more local media and no more journalists holding local governments and officials to account. Many Canadians have no way of knowing what is happening in their communities and no way of knowing what is happening at City Hall. The very foundations of our government are eroding. All this is at a time when disinformation is on the rise. Canadians need credible, independent and reliable information.

We have implemented concrete solutions to address these issues, and I would like to go through a couple of them. We created the Canadian journalism labour tax credit. This has kept many outlets afloat: many more would have gone bankrupt during the pandemic, leaving many communities without any local journalistic coverage. We created a tax credit for subscriptions and donations to media.

We increased funding to the Canada periodical fund, which many local media outlets had to rely on. We are even adding an additional $40 million to the budget in 2022. We created the local journalism initiative. Thanks to this program, many communities can count on journalistic equality and consistent access to local news. Without it, many communities would have absolutely zero coverage on the ground. These are all important steps, but we know there is more work to do.

We have heard loud and clear from the Canadian journalism industry that news businesses are struggling. They are in dire need of long-term, reliable and structural supports to continue producing the news that Canadians rely so heavily on. That is why we need tech giants to do their part, and that is why we need Bill C-18.

The compensation that tech giants would provide to Canadian media through Bill C-18 would represent a giant step in ensuring the viability of strong and independent journalism in Canada, which is essential to our democracy. That is what Bill C-18 would do. It is simple. Tech giants would fairly compensate Canadian journalists when they use their content. That is it: no more, no less.

It is a market-based solution that involves minimal government intervention, and I think everyone in this place can agree on that. I am sure my Conservative colleagues will be very happy. They believe in the free market and independent journalism. I really cannot think of anything in this bill that they would not like.

As I said, Bill C-18 is a market-based approach designed to revolve around bargaining and balance between large, dominant digital platforms and news businesses. It would ensure that eligible news businesses are fairly compensated for their content by digital platforms through negotiated deals. The bill incentivizes parties to reach commercial agreements on their own.

It is based on the Australian model, but we made it more transparent. Public and transparent criteria would determine which platform is included and has to negotiate with Canadian media. It is not a minister and not a government. Every step of the way, we would make sure that the government stays as far away as possible from this process.

Digital platforms would be designated under the act. If they had a significant bargaining power imbalance compared with news businesses, they would be required to negotiate with eligible news businesses a fair compensation for the news content that appears on their services.

Again, this is not the government that determines which outlet is eligible. There are criteria. They are written in black and white in the bill. It is as transparent as it gets.

I hope my colleagues are listening carefully. I am sure they are, because they wanted me to go on for an additional 10 minutes. The next part of this speech is important, because the bill is important to smaller local media as well.

Eligible media may collectively bargain if they wish. This would allow smaller media outlets that did not have the resources to single-handedly negotiate with tech giants to still receive fair compensation for the use of their content. In other words, we are ensuring that local journalism can continue to thrive in communities across Canada.

We went even further on transparency, because we believe this is essential to preserve public confidence in Canadian journalism and in our democracy. Every single deal would be disclosed. Canadians would know which news organizations have deals with each and every platform. Through this bill, we are making sure that commercial agreements between digital platforms and news businesses are in the public interest.

For the deals to be acceptable, they need to satisfy six criteria.

First, they provide fair compensation for news content.

Second, they ensure that an appropriate portion of the compensation will be used for the production of local, regional and national news content.

Third, they do not undermine freedom of expression and journalistic integrity.

Fourth, they contribute to the sustainability of the news market.

Fifth, they ensure that a significant portion of independent local news businesses benefit from the deals.

Sixth, they involve a range of news outlets that reflect the diversity of the Canadian news marketplace.

Again, we see the criteria are public and transparent. There is minimal government intervention.

The bill even contains an exemption to this. It contains a set of criteria that, if fulfilled, may exempt digital platforms from further negotiations. This is essential to encourage voluntary commercial agreements to further minimize government involvement. To be exempt, digital platforms would have to show that they sufficiently contribute to the Canadian digital news marketplace by reaching fair commercial agreements, that they have an appropriate portion of compensation used to support local and independent news, that the agreements are inclusive and made with a diversity of news businesses representing a diversity of Canadian interests and identities, and that the agreements support innovative business models. As we can see, this is another way to make sure that local media also receive fair compensation. It is at the core of the bill.

Without this legislation, Canadian journalism and democracy will continue to erode. It is already happening as we speak. Bill C-18 would ensure that digital platforms are negotiating fair commercial deals with news businesses. This is not just about large news businesses, as I clearly demonstrated through the availability of collective bargaining. As a criteria for the exemption, this bill would ensure that small businesses also receive fair compensation.

This bill would limit government involvement and protect the independence of media from both government and commercial interference, because now, more than ever, Canadians need strong and independent journalism.

The Conservatives have told us they want market-based solutions to the media crisis. I agree, and we agree, but right now there are two companies, Google and Meta, that get 80% of the ad revenue on the Internet. It does not feel like it is a free market. There is not much competition. It is almost a monopoly, but with our bill Canadian media would have the tools they need to negotiate fair deals. It is a solution that protects media and protects their independence.

We are basing this on the Australian model. I know when a similar bill came out in Australia, Facebook, or Meta, attempted to have a fight with the Australian government and threatened to pull all of the country's news sources from Facebook. It thought it would turn the Australian people against their government, but what it did was turn them against Facebook, which backed down.

We have seen other countries and other allies of Canada move in this direction. We have an understanding and we have full knowledge. Again, I hope all members support our need to have strong independent journalism to help our democracy. Australia created a model that works. The tech giants have negotiated fair deals with Australian media outlets, including Australian Crown corporations. Journalism there is now stronger. Australian democracy is now stronger. It worked in Australia, and it will work in Canada.

I think that is what we want. I truly hope that this will be a speedy debate and that all parties will come together on this, because that is what we want to see. I am sure there are members in this House who do not like that there are local news outlets that hold them to account, but that is what strengthens our democracy.

I know the Conservatives have been very vocal on our committee, and I respect that, talking about the Shaw-Rogers merger and its impact on local news. We have had some very good discussion on that. Because there is a potential impact on a number of local television stations and local news across the country, I hope that concern goes broader. The merger is an excellent discussion, a discussion worth having, but this is the elephant in the room, in terms of ad revenues that have left, ad revenues that are going away from local news organizations and going to massive American companies, the dominant digital players. Again, 80% of that revenue goes to those two companies. It does not seem like we could have a healthy space, and this concerns me.

We see the consequences of misinformation and disinformation online. The types of things that local media and national media outlets do are to get the truth out, but on Facebook and other social media, we do not see that impact. To see the safety of the hon. leader of the NDP threatened because of individuals who have now become subsumed in the disinformation that social media has to offer is horrific. It was frightening to watch, and it was disappointing to see. No member of this place should have to go through that. He handled it with poise, and I tip my hat to him, but none of us should be placed in that position.

I will wrap up by saying that this is a significant bill for Canadians, for democracy. We need to find ways to strengthen that. I look forward to getting this to committee as quickly as possible. We have excellent debates in the heritage committee and we have a very good working relationship with all parties. There is an appreciation across all the parties that we need to do more for local media and we need to do more for national media to ensure that that presence continues to exist.

I hope that we see broad support on Bill C-18, and I look forward to its passing speedily at second reading so that we can get it to committee as quickly as we can.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 10 a.m.
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Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON