The Online News Act has continued to create a political firestorm this summer with a legislative battle that leaves the future of some Canadian news organizations stuck in the middle between sabre rattling from the government and Internet platforms. Chris Waddell is a professor at and former director of the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University in Ottawa and also holds the university’s Carty Chair in Business and Financial Journalism. He’s worked at the CBC and the Globe and Mail, where he won two National Newspaper Awards. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to provide much needed context on the current moment in Canadian media and to offer some thoughts on what may lie ahead.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 174: Chris Waddell on the Missing Context for Bill C-18 and the Challenges Faced by Canadian Media
Government Mandate to Block All News in Canada?: Why Australia’s News Law Architect Recommendation Demonstrates that Canada Has Been Getting Awful Advice on Bill C-18
The implications of the legislative disaster that is Bill C-18 continue to unfold as Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is now essentially doing precisely what he said would not do, namely negotiate with the big tech platforms over government mandated payments for news links. Rodriguez had long claimed that the bill was designed to keep the government out of the issue and to leave it to the platforms and media companies to craft agreements. Yet with the departmental update this week, it is clear that the government is now discussing a minimum spend for inclusion in the regulations, effectively putting itself at the very head of the negotiating table.
Given the enormous risks that the bill poses to Canadian media – at stake are links that often constitute the majority media site traffic, the cancellation of existing deals worth millions, and a bill that may not generate any new revenues – the government is looking for a way out of mess of its own making. The Australian example has been the government’s north star on this issue with a prominent role throughout the House and Senate hearings for Rod Sims, the architect of the Australian law. Sims has regularly published op-eds in Canada promoting his bill and offering advice. His latest piece demonstrates how poorly he understands the Canadian law and how the government has been badly advised on how to best proceed. Sims identifies the differences between the Canadian and Australian law, recommending that Canada move to mandate blocking of all news if Google and Meta stop Canadian news linking and sharing:
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 173: Tom Cardoso on Access to Information and the Globe and Mail’s Secret Canada Initiative
Canada’s Access to Information system is now widely viewed as a failure, marked by extensive delays and processes that can be difficult to navigate. While the reforms continue to lag within government, the Globe and Mail has undertaken a remarkable project that does the work governments should be doing. Secret Canada is part giant ATIP database, part investigative series in the Globe in Mail on freedom to information. Led by Tom Cardoso and Robin Doolittle, the project is an exceptional resource that opens the door to better government transparency and greater accessibility of the ATIP system. Cardoso is member of the Globe’s investigations team whose work often combines freedom of information requests, data analysis and source development. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to talk about the challenges with Canada’s access to information system and the Secret Canada project.