The government unveiled Bill C-56 yesterday, legislation it touts as supporting the building of more rental homes (through tax measures) and stabilizing grocery prices (through Competition Act reforms). While the proposed Competition Act changes include increased investigative and merger blocking powers for the Competition Bureau as well as the long overdue elimination of the efficiencies defence, the bill also includes provisions that undermine Competition Bureau independence. The government is not promoting those changes – there is no reference to it in the press release – but bill gives it broad powers to order inquiries into any market or industry and dictate the terms of the inquiry to the Competition Bureau. Those reforms are not subject to any significant limitations and are open to potential abuse.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 177: Chris Dinn on Bill C-18’s Harm to Torontoverse and Investment in Innovative Media in Canada
The Law Bytes podcast is back after a brief break, and with it, talk about the Online News Act or Bill C-18. All news – both Canadian and foreign – is blocked on Facebook and Instagram in response to Bill C-18 and the reports suggest that the move has had no real impact in use of the platform. Where it has had an impact, however, is on news outlets themselves, many of whom have experienced significant reductions in referral traffic, which invariably leads to less revenues.
Much of the attention is on the big players, but the problem is particularly acute for smaller, independent news outlets. Chris Dinn is the founder and publisher of Torontoverse, a new Toronto news outlet that combines news with mapping technologies to create a different way of engaging with the news. The year-old site was growing quickly, but recently announced that it was slowing down in response to Bill C-18’s impact. Chris joins the podcast to talk about the business, the effect of the government legislation, and what he thinks should come next.
Federal Court Approves Consent Order Requiring Minister Steven Guilbeault to Unblock Ezra Levant on Twitter
The Federal Court has approved a consent order requiring Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault to unblock Rebel News publisher Ezra Levant on Twitter. The order stems from a 2021 lawsuit filed by Levant which argued that blocking “violated the Applicants’ constitutional rights under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in blocking access to official governmental Twitter accounts, and thereby limiting the Applicants’ ability to, inter alia, access and communicate important information, participate in public debate, and express views on matters of public concern.” The order also includes a $20,000 cost award to Levant. Regardless of your views of either Levant or Guilbeault, the principle that government ministers should not block access to their feeds given the implications for freedom of expression is an important one.