Faced With the Imminent Demise of the Online News Act, Heritage Minister STILL Insists it’s “Necessary”

Heritage Minister, Pascale St-Onge, recently gave an interview where she insisted the Online News Act is “necessary”.

Reality is continuing to bite harder and harder on supporters of the Online News Act. The legislation targets Meta and Google, demanding that they pay news outlets for the privilege of sending news outlets traffics through linking. The terms set out by the link tax has proven to be completely unworkable. Meta has already ditched news links while Google is largely expected to follow through on their announcement and do the same.

In fact, very recently, Google said that their position on this has remained unchanged in this whole affair. As a result, the situation is just as dire as the day this bill passed. The only difference is that we are now much closer to the December 19 drop dead date of when Google has to either just pull the trigger or bend at the knee and pay for sending traffic to others. So, an argument could be made that the situation is worse today than it was back then. What’s more, Google simply trying to get answers on what their obligations even are was apparently like pulling teeth as the government didn’t have very many answers for them.

Of course, a major problem in all of this is that supporters have gotten high on their own talking point supply and, in turn, has rejected reality and continue to believe they have a bargaining chip in all of this. In the face of the aforementioned reality, the Canadian government decided to raise the link tax rate to 4% of ad revenue from Google. The government might be thinking they are making a toughened stance, but in reality, they are pushing Google further out the door. Unifor took the delusion to a whole new level by calling on the government to increase the link tax rate to 7%, screwing over parts of their own membership in the process.

It’s this weapons grade delusion that has these supporters ignoring the fact that the Online News Act is already being held up as a warning for what not to do in other countries – in that case, the United States. People in other countries have already been asking how they can avoid being the next Canada. International observation is happening for Canada and, mercifully, there are those that are seeing the situation for what it is – which is more than what could be said for supporters back here at home.

Today, we learned that the weapons grade delusion is only continuing with Canadian Heritage Minister, Pascale St-Onge. Recently, she gave an interview with CTV where she said that the Online News Act is not perfect, but “necessary”. No, I’m not joking:

Online News Act not perfect but necessary: Heritage Minister

TORONTO – Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge says that while the Online News Act isn’t perfect, the media landscape is changing too fast for the government to wait any longer.

“We need to put our foot in the door and start doing it,” St-Onge said Friday while speaking at the MINDS international news agency conference in Toronto.

“Even though it’s not perfect, even though some are not pleased with what we’re doing, but this new challenge is coming so fast that we need to address it as quickly as possible.”

I mean, compelling platforms to erase the presence of news media on social media is a way of addressing things. It’s a really stupid way of addressing this, but it is a way.

Of course, the delusion is only just getting started. The Minister also commented on Meta dropping news links. St-Onge insists that Meta leaving the room long ago is still just an intimidation tactic:

The act doesn’t come into force until December, but Facebook started removing news for Canadians this past summer in what St-Onge said was an intimidation tactic.

“They’ve used it elsewhere in the world. They are also sending you, and the entire world a message, that they will resist any type of regulation.”

No, Minister, Meta has left the building on this debate. With traffic remaining unchanged for Facebook, the platform has no reason to continue to further engage with the government on this matter in this climate. The only ones who suffered in all of this are the very media companies you claim to be defending here. Unless the legislation gets rescinded, Meta has no reason to discuss the matter further. If you want to continue to insist this is all just a big fancy bluff, by all means, sit in an empty room and continue to believe that. It’s only the entire news sector that suffers as a result of your poor decision making skills, but hey, don’t let that get in the way of your ego, here. After all, that’s clearly the only thing that’s important here. Don’t worry, though, you’ll have all the time in the world to think these things because the situation isn’t going to change any time soon.

Naturally, though the Minister is also continuing to encourage news industries in other countries to also commit financial suicide:

Speaking to the audience of news agencies from more than 20 countries, she encouraged other governments to push back.

“We encourage and stand with other countries who are thinking about taking actions. Don’t be intimidated. It’s our responsibility to protect press freedoms.”

So, she is pushing for history to repeat itself elsewhere. It wasn’t enough inflicting an incredibly amount of harm on the news sector here at home. If she gets her way, that harm will be expanded internationally as well. The hope is that other countries will come to their senses and realize that they are creating news deserts on a massive scale. For those wondering, I did, in fact, write a separate article explaining why the legal theory of a global link tax is a really bad idea.

Ultimately, if this is the attitude the minister has adopted, then there’s only one outcome that seems to be a sure thing at this point: Google eventually finally has enough of the Canadian government’s word salad and just blocks news links as well. This will result in the unleashing of even greater harm in the news sector – likely resulting in numerous closures, layoffs, hiring freezes, and losses. As long as the government and its handful of supporters continue to believe they have a chip to bargain with, then the outcome of seeing news vanish from the largest websites on the planet will continue to either happen or stay vanished. The only people left to blame for that situation will be the government and the people who supported the Online News Act.

(Via @MGeist)

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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