Can’t Keep Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 Separate? Don’t Worry, Neither Can the Heritage Minister

Trying to separate Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 is not actually that easy. The Heritage Minister proved that point.

Whenever I write news articles about Bill C-11 (Online Streaming Act) and Bill C-18 (Online News Act), it’s always easier to write about one in a series than it is to constantly switch between one and the other. So, for instance, when I had been writing a series of articles on the Online News Act, I’m keeping in mind things like what the law actually does, the points, the counterpoints, the history of how we got to this point in time, the nuances of what impacts it will have on different services, etc.

However, let’s say a big development happens in regard to the Online Streaming Act. So, what I do is take a moment to reconfigure my mind and run through the history of the legislation, the points, the counterpoints, run through what the bill actually does, and the nuances of the impact it will have on different services. In a way, it’s like swapping a disc on a game console and loading everything so I can get to writing a news article.

What I described may sound a bit silly on the surface, but it is a procedure I do to try and minimize silly mistakes when writing the story that I need to write. This is especially in light of how many mistakes I’ve seen made elsewhere.

I’ve seen arguments, for instance, that says that the Online Streaming Act will definitely force the platforms to leave the country altogether because the platforms are threatening to do so. In actuality, that is, for the time being, a very remote possibility because the platforms haven’t actually (to my knowledge, anyway) said that they would do anything like that in response to the Online Streaming Act.

In actuality, that is obviously in reference to the Online News Act where the platforms have said (and Meta has followed through on this) that they would drop news links altogether and are poised to do so. It’s a silly mistake, but a mistake that can easily be made.

In fact, when I find myself in conversations with others about these two laws, I’ve had people ask me for clarification on which is which. I offer that clarification and tell people in that situation that it’s really easy to confuse the two bills and that they are far from the first to confuse the two laws. It’s not any sort of fake understanding. It is genuine understanding because not only do I see statements that clearly confuse the two laws, but I can easily see why someone who isn’t necessarily into the details like me would confuse the two.

After all, both laws do harm innovation. Both laws are a threat to freedom of expression in their own ways (there are nuances to consider). Additionally, both laws not only deal with the internet in general, but affect platforms on top of it all. What’s more, it doesn’t help when supporters use the blanket “make platforms pay their fair share” BS talking point to support both laws, using it interchangeably. Even when you spend weeks understanding not just the two laws, it is still easy to confuse the two. So, there is nothing all that easy about keeping the two separate when discussing it.

So, when I found out the Heritage Minister herself confused the two laws, it put a smile on my face. In a now deleted tweet, Heritage Minister, Pascale St-Onge accused the Conservative party of not telling the truth and… promptly mixed the two laws up:

(Screenshot by @Mgeist)

As you can see in the screenshot, she specifically mentions the Online News Act. The problem? The article linked in the tweet was talking about the Online Streaming Act.


What is more remarkable is that this is the same Canadian Press article I earlier debunked as filled with factual errors about the law. It is very unfortunate that the error-filled article is being distributed to other news sources and promoted by politicians on top of it all, though.

While the tweet was deleted, the Minister has since reposted the tweet, referring to the correct law:

So, if you ever find yourself confused, struggling to keep the two laws separate, don’t worry, the Minister currently behind them herself has problems keeping the two separate as well. You’re in good company.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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