The fight over C-18 isn’t about journalism — it’s about power

  Aaron Wherry · CBC News

The Liberals seem to be keen for a fight with tech giants — but that doesn’t make it an equal contest

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says he won’t be pushed around by Google and Facebook in the ongoing fight over C-18, the Online News Act.

“They’re superpowers. They’re huge. They’re rich, powerful. Lots of big lawyers. They can be intimidating,” Rodriguez told reporters this week at a news conference convened to announce that the federal government would be suspending its advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

“But are we going to let ourselves be intimidated? We can’t.”

In fact, Rodriguez has framed this refusal to be intimidated in rather existential terms.

“We cannot have tech giants as powerful as they are, with big lawyers and everything, coming here and telling members of Parliament and the government elected by the people, ‘This is what you’re going to do,'” he told CTV last week. “We can’t accept that. We’re a sovereign nation.”

WATCH: Federal government suspends advertising on Facebook, Instagram

Thing is, if you have to insist you won’t be intimidated, it’s probably because there’s a reason to believe you could be intimidated. And that’s the basic problem facing both the Liberal government and the Canadian media industry — they find themselves in a spot where the major Internet platforms are able to exert significant pressure on them.

On a fundamental level, the fight over C-18 isn’t really about journalism. It’s about power.

  • This week on Cross Country Checkup, our Ask Me Anything focuses on Google and Meta’s plan to eventually remove links to Canadian journalism in response to the federal government’s Online News Act.  Fill out the details on this form to get your questions in early.

Our changing relationship with Big Tech

The Trudeau government may very well relish the idea of a fight with powerful global entities. At a news conference on Thursday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland referred to the government’s antagonists as “American tech giants” — and neither the first nor the third words seemed accidental.

It wasn’t so long ago that the major social media platforms were celebrated — or at least respected — for the communication and innovation they facilitated. Their creators were treated like oracles. Few, if any, major political or media figures failed to embrace the social-media era. Google’s parent company nearly built its own neighbourhood in Toronto.

full story at

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: