Pascale_St-Onge_at_Halton_Field_Hockey_Club, YourTV Halton, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Pascale_St-Onge_at_Halton_Field_Hockey_Club, YourTV Halton, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons


Why Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge Doesn’t Seem to Understand How Bill C-18 Works

Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge went on a media offensive late last week, granting interviews to a wide range of publications. St-Onge noted that she had “positive” talks with Google and Meta that she hoped would result in a compromise and improbably claimed concern for users’ rights to share information online, an odd position given that Bill C-18 undermines the free flow of information online with its mandated payments for links approach. St-Onge got the headlines she was no doubt looking for, but it was pretty obvious that not much had changed, with Meta confirming that she had requested the meeting and that it is continuing to end news availability in Canada. While that was typical of the English-language coverage, St-Onge’s comments to French language outlets such as La Presse and Journal de Montreal added another dimension, with the Minister suggesting that companies should negotiate deals by year-end in order to become “exempt” from the law. 

St-Onge may want to leave the impression that there is an easy out for the tech companies, yet the reality is those comments fundamentally misunderstand how Bill C-18 works. First, signing agreements does not result in an exemption from the law. Unlike the Australian law – which did grant the government the ability to grant an exemption under the law – the Canadian law does not adopt the same approach. So long as Google and Meta facilitate access to news content (ie. link to it), they will be treated as digital news intermediaries (DNIs) under the law and there is no available exemption. This means that the many rules in Bill C-18, including codes of conduct, disclosure requirements, rules governing the display of news content, etc. are likely all applicable to them regardless of the existence of negotiated agreements. Simply put, when St-Onge claims the companies would be exempt under the law based on agreements that could be signed over the coming months, she is wrong.

Second, perhaps St-Onge meant to say that reaching agreements by year-end would exempt the DNIs from the final offer arbitration process in the law. However, this too is at best misleading since merely signing agreements does not achieve that outcome. Rather, the agreements are submitted to the CRTC, which is tasked with reviewing them and considering whether to approve them as sufficient to avoid the final offer arbitration process. The CRTC could expand the exemption order, but the full scope of such an exemption remains uncertain. In fact, there is enormous uncertainty associated with this process with both additional government and CRTC regulations to come. That uncertainty is a significant concern, since companies could sign agreements and still find themselves subject to the final offer arbitration process.

Third, St-Onge’s assurances about deals signed over the coming months ignores the CRTC’s timeline for implementing Bill C-18. The CRTC does not envision mandatory bargaining starting until early 2025, which means that approval of “eligible news businesses” could take years. Given that timeframe, the Internet companies don’t even have the full slate of media companies with whom they can negotiate since Commission certification is still years away. 

St-Onge indicated that the draft Bill C-18 regulations could come this week. Those regulations may provide increased certainty on some issues, but – as I wrote here – their scope is still fairly limited. Indeed, most of the law is finalized. The new Heritage Minister would do well to ensure she understands it. 




  1. She’s in over her head.

    Understanding C-18 should and would have been her first task given the hotbed that it is. So presumably she has gone to that effort but still doesn’t actually understand it.

    Somebody probably needs to explain it to her like she were 5 years old.

    • Lena Alene says:

      We started Work with Google all the way from the beginning. Everybody can come in together and work on these shared documents, g Join Work As Well Today And Take Income
      Just Go This Link Click It….. Google Smart Income Option

    • John Tillotson says:

      Her position and livelihood depend on NOT understanding the bill: To understand the bill it to realize it’s nothing but a grift by the LPC government to take money from the social media giants and pass that money along to LPC-friendly MSM companies.

      To paraphrase Upton Sinclair — ‘It is difficult to get a *person* to understand something, when *their* salary depends on *their* not understanding it.’

  2. She doesn’t need to understand the Bill because facts don’t matter to this government. All she has to do is stay on message.

    • DB, your post is very insightful.

      It’s sad that Canadian federal governance has descended into the level of media manipulation, unethical practices, and fundamental meanness that the Liberals have inflicted on us

      I don’t know how to get back to a place where we appreciate statesmanship, character and integrity in our governance instead of “nice hair”, lies, and empty promises. But I always try to remember the words of Winston Churchill: “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”

      • > I don’t know how to get back to a place where we appreciate statesmanship, character and integrity in our governance instead of “nice hair”, lies, and empty promises.

        Probably revolution. We are so far off the rails at all levels of government in this country that it’s extremely difficult to see anything less drastic than that.

        The corporate interests have captured all of parties and all of the governments they form.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am a capitalist through and through. Capitalism is not the problem here, corruption is.

        • Actually I figure that, conceptually, it would be fairly easy to bring back statesmanship, etc into government of all levels in Canada, but it isn’t likely to happen. For me the main problem is not the fact that we don’t have PR, but rather the level of party discipline that we have. The party centers letting the individual MPs represent their constituents, not the party, would be a good start, since it would also mean that the party center would be responsive to the MPs (what Michael Chong’s bill attempted to do back in the mid-2010s). The media (mostly news) is part of the problem; if an MP doesn’t toe the party line they tend to ridicule the leader of the day and then in the next breath bemoan the fact that MPs are subject to party discipline.

          I presume that by corporate interests you include the capture of the NDP by unions in Canada, to the point that they have a VP representing organized labour and they also have delegates at a convention, even though legally they can’t contribute to the party.

          • Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing “toe the party line”. I keep seeing “tow the line” in comments here and elsewhere and it drives me nuts.

            Personally, I don’t think it’s going to take a “revolution” in the classical and violent sense: What it will take is an “awakening” among voters: One hopes that when citizens find their standard of living dropping and their life goals shattered by a failing economy and toxic ideologies, they might just wake up and realize they have been hoodwinked by social media, MSM and the current federal government. Then things might change, but a lot of the political landscape needs to change and the neo-marxist influence in the media, government, and education needs to be recognized and forced back into the dustbin of history where it belongs.

            It’s a long road: Let’s hope it will not be a violent one.

          • This. Party before constituents. So much this.

            I have had private discussions with my MP that make clear that even if in his judgement, a bill should not pass, as a member of the government he has to vote in favour. The really sad part is that his judgement has always struck me as very sound, and if MPs could always vote according to conscience and their constituents, we might see less of what we are seeing here.

            The other factor that does not get mentioned much is that this bill, along with C-11, is the work of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. There is a separate Standing Committee on Industry and Technology, which might take a different perspective on this whole situation. Like it or not, what we are in effect facing is industrial policy for the digital age, and it is being developed without the involvement of the industry committee.

            I would hope that an industry committee would have some sense to recognize and consider the economics and the incentives involved when creating industrial regulation.

          • Chris, that is exactly why I loathe the idea of a PR form of government. Party discipline means that the members are even more serving at the pleasure of their party leader, reducing even more the effectiveness of a MP (or MPP) for their constituents. It also prevents an independent candidate from getting into Parliament (think JWR after she was tossed from the LPC).

            But this is getting off topic.

  3. Pingback: Heritage Minister, Pascale St-Onge, Doesn't Seem to Understand How Bill C-18 Works

  4. I interpreted the bill such that in theory they could get an exemption, but the conditions listed in section 11 pretty much preclude the chance that it will happen. This includes some listed conditions in the Act (which would on their own mean that the exemption is unlikely to be granted), but also conditions not specifically listed (from the Act):

    (a.‍1) the Commission has held public consultations in accordance with any conditions that its Chairperson may specify; and

    (b) any condition set out in regulations made by the Governor in Council.

    These latter allow the government to add rules without modifying the legislation (or, if I understand the process correctly, the approval of Parliament). And you can expect that they will; the current government has done this a few times before for political advantage, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that other governments have done this as well.

  5. Pingback: Leftover Links 29/08/2023: Fukushima Uproar in China | Techrights

  6. You want to make money without investing money. That’s how I started this job and now I’m making 200-300 US Dollar an k hour working online from home.
    Apply here now….

  7. Pingback: Meta called the government's bluff and the Liberals are left grasping at air - The Hub

  8. When Canadian figure out what a cluster-f C18 is, they are going to freak.

    This may end up being the liberals undoing and I personally would not want to see the Tories win because of this.

    Please fix C-18!

  9. Pingback: Media Beat, Aug. 31, 2023 – Kookloofeed

  10. BreannQueen says:

    Get paid for simple online data entry tasks. Work at your own pace. Regular Payments. Search in different job categories. Work anywhere on your computer, wn laptop or mobile phone.Update your profile at any time.
    You get paid every day. here……. Join Start Google Day1

  11. We are looking for a social media worker to join our social media team Workers for roughly 10-15 hours a week to focus on Normally level tasks. do Work sv03 On Instagram, Facebook, and potentially Tiktok If AnyOne Intrested
    Join Here Click………………………………………………….

  12. Pingback: Meta ha scoperto il bluff del governo e i liberali restano con le mani in aria: Peter Menzies nell'Hub Infwrld notizie oggi - Notizie oggi