The federal government has quietly backed down from its plans to implement a new digital services tax as of January 2024 that the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated would generate billions in revenue. It did not make the headlines or receive much promotion, but after months of insisting that a digital services tax would take effect in Canada in January 2024, the government has now removed that implementation deadline in the Fall Economic Statement. The battle over the proposed tax had sparked increasing anger between Canada and the U.S., with dozens of U.S. Senators and Representatives signing letters urging the government to delay its plans. The Canadian plan remains to establish a retroactive three percent tax that will hit a wide range of businesses, but given fears moving ahead now would jeopardize a global agreement that is designed to address the digital services tax issue, Canada has seemingly faced the obvious reality and backed down.
Bill C-18 Bailout: Government Announces Plans to Pay For 35% of Journalist Costs for News Outlets as It More Than Doubles Tax Credit Per Employee
The government has taken the first step to creating a bailout for its disastrous Bill C-18 by agreeing to News Media Canada demands to increase the support under the Labour Journalism Tax Credit. While the current system covers 25% of the journalist costs up to $55,000 per employee (or $13,750), the government’s fall economic statement increases both the percentage covered and cap per employee. Under the new system, which is retroactive to the start of this year, Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations (which covers print and digital but not broadcasters) can now claim 35% of the costs of journalist expenditures up to $85,000 per employee. The increases the support to up to $29,750 per employee or an increase of 116%. This new support will run for four years at a cost of $129 million ($60 million this year alone).
Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge’s Tries to Re-Write Bill C-11 History: There Is No Quick Implementation and the Government is to Blame
The government plans to release its final policy direction on Bill C-11 today just days ahead of the start of a weeks-long series of hearings at the CRTC on the Online Streaming Act (I am scheduled to appear in early December). Ahead of the release, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge tries to re-write history, urging fast enactment of the legislation and blaming the Conservatives for the delays. Yet here is the reality: Bill C-10, the predecessor to Bill C-11, would have become law back in 2021 had the government not opened the door to regulating user content. Instead, the bill rightly became a source of concern, leading to years of legislative delays that virtually guarantees that nothing will take effect until 2025 at the earliest.
Pablo Rodriguez Failed For Weeks to Say Anything About Funding for an Anti-Semite and Then Lied About What He Knew. He Should Resign.
The government’s funding of Laith Marouf, a known anti-semite, sparked anger and condemnation last summer as many wondered how Canadian Heritage failed to conduct the necessary due diligence to weed him out as part of its anti-hate program. While government MPs such as Anthony Housefather urged action, then-Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussein was slow to respond and then-Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez inexplicably remained silent. I posted repeatedly on his silence, leading his Parliamentary Secretary, MP Chris Bittle, to suggest that I was racist and a bully. Yet as we have witnessed in recent days, when it comes to antisemitism, silence is not an option. The threat is literally playing out in our streets and campuses and we need everyone – Jews and non-Jews alike – to speak out against it and take action where necessary.
Even after Housefather pleaded with his fellow MPs to speak out, it still took Rodriguez days to say anything. And when he did, he pointedly did not issue a public statement. In fact, repeated requests for the statement he apparently provided to one news outlet were ignored. The failure to speak out against antisemitism – the notion that it “wasn’t his file” – displayed an utter lack of awareness of the need to counter hate and stand in solidarity with affected communities. That display of weak moral character alone may not be a fireable offence, but lying to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is.
“A Lack of Commitment to Transparency and a Failure of Leadership”: Melanie Joly and Global Affairs Ignore Information Commissioner Ruling in My Request for Decades-Old Copyright Records
In 2017, I filed an access to information request with Global Affairs Canada seeking records related to the creation of the WIPO Internet Treaties more than 20 years earlier. The timing of the request was not accidental. The exception for cabinet confidences in the Access to Information Act no longer applies after 20 years and my hope was to gain insights into the government’s thinking during the negotiation process that might have previously been publicly unavailable. The request took a long time to process and the department still withheld many records on a range of grounds. I rarely appeal to the Information Commissioner, but in this case I did. Last week, the Information Commissioner determined that my complaint was well-founded, but Global Affairs and its Minister, Melanie Joly, have thus far refused to abide by the ruling.