local news for local people by Lis Ferla https://flic.kr/p/6gnLCV (CC BY-NC 2.0)

local news for local people by Lis Ferla https://flic.kr/p/6gnLCV (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Globe Publisher Calls Bill C-18 a “Threat to the Independence of Media” As Government Senate Representative Smears Bill Critics

The Senate hearings on Bill C-18, the Online News Act, resumed yesterday with two blockbuster panels that included the Globe and Mail, News Media Canada, La Presse, Le Devoir, Canadaland, The Line, and Village Media. The unmistakable takeaway was the enormous risks the bill creates to the independence of the press, to the future of digital media, and to the bottom lines of Canadian news outlets across the country. Further, it is increasingly apparent that the government has no real answers to these risks other than sabre rattling with tech companies and questioning the motives of critics of the legislation. 

The eagerness to smear anyone who dares criticize the bill provided the most jaw-dropping moment of the hearing with Senator Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate on the bill, suggesting that Bill C-18 criticism from Village Media’s Jeff Elgie, one of Canada’s most successful local digital news organizations, might be motivated by the business benefits of local media shutting down:

Your business model often goes into communities where local media has collapsed or gone bankrupt or out of business. That clearly has given you the opportunity, in Guelph, for a recent example, to expand your business. Given your lack of enthusiasm for this bill, is it safe to say that your business model depends on further small-town media collapsing, which would be guaranteed by delaying this legislation? 


The question came moments after Elgie informed the committee that should Google and Facebook block news as a result of the bill, his entire business would shut down. In fact, Elgie noted that his organization has stopped hiring due to fears about the implications of the bill. Yet as with Bill C-11, good faith criticism and concerns are treated by the government as hostile opposition to be smeared. 

As for the remainder of the hearing, the panel provided confirmation of the myriad of concerns with the bill: 

  • The Globe and Mail’s Phillip Crawley warned against the intrusion of the CRTC into the news business, calling it a “threat to the independence of media.” 
  • Jesse Brown of Canadaland highlighted the trust deficit with news organizations and the risks that this could exacerbated by the bill. 
  • Both the Globe and Mail and Village Media said they paid Facebook to surface their content, surely an obvious rebuttal of the value that flows from free links and the absurdity of claiming that such content posted by publishers anxious for visibility requires further compensation
  • Virtually everyone admitted that Facebook and Google blocking news sharing would have a devastating effect, with the services accounting for sizable portions of traffic (70% for Le Devoir, 50% in the case of Village Media, 30% search for the Globe). Elgie said Village Media would not survive blocking from both Google and Facebook, while the Globe said it would cost millions of dollars.
  • News Media Canada wants the bill passed by the summer, though it also wants amendments. It seems unlikely both are possible.

The end result is a bill that even supporters admit has serious flaws that could spark a reaction that results in a massive loss for Canadian media with lost links and lost deals. That the government is now open to criticize even local media organizations if they dare to question the bill highlights the paucity of answers to what is likely to become mounting criticism should the bill pass in its current form and lead to less access to news for Canadians and less revenues for Canadian news organizations.


  1. What a nightmare!

    Is Pablo, at this point, just too stubborn to admit that he’s royally fucked this one up and it needs to go straight into the garbage with no attempts to even try to fix it (hint to Pablo: there is no fixing this one — it’s a write-off).

    Well, he fucked up C-11 also, but this one is a bigger fuck-up to be sure.

    It’s simply ridonculous.

  2. I wonder if the Liberals view C18 as a win-win situation. If Google and Facebook pay then the media will be more likely to support the Liberals in the next election. If Google and Facebook block links then there will be a lot less coverage of the Liberal’s incompetence and corruption.

  3. The potential consequences of this bill are deeply concerning. Even its supporters acknowledge the serious flaws that could lead to significant losses for Canadian media, including lost links and deals. The fact that the government is willing to silence criticism from local media organizations raises alarm bells about the lack of accountability and transparency surrounding this legislation. If passed as it stands, it could result in reduced access to news for Canadians and diminished revenues for Canadian news organizations. It is crucial that we address these issues and strive for a balanced solution that supports the sustainability of Canadian media while preserving the public’s right to information.

  4. I laughed when I read, “threat to the independence of media.”
    Corporations have already destroyed the majority.

  5. If you want to start a business in Canada just don’t. I feel bad for anyone who has to live here. It’s over. I can over look a poorly written copyright law or two but regulating algorithms, social media and news. Our country is over, Davos decides in reality.

    “That the Government of Canada enact transparency requirements with respect to algorithms and provide to an existing or a new regulatory body the mandate and the authority to audit algorithms.”

  6. The concerns raised by the Globe publisher regarding Bill C-18 and its potential impact on media independence are significant. It is essential to have open discussions and constructive debates about the bill, rather than resorting to smearing critics. Floating Stairs