Lobby Group, Unifor, Demands Canadian Government Raise Link Tax Rate to 7%

Lobby group and union group, Unifor, has doubled down on the link tax insanity and demanded a 7% rate.

Supporters of the link tax have shown little to no sign that they realize what a horrible mistake they made by supporting Canada’s link tax law. A recent development suggests that they continue to remain completely oblivious to the disaster that is the Online News Act and think that they are doing a fantastic job to boot.

Fresh off of telling US lawmakers tall tales of the roaring success of the Online News Act, it seems that Unifor has decided to one-up the stupidity of this whole situation.

Already, the Canadian government raised the cost of link taxes to a massive 4%. On top of that is the fact that the money won’t really go towards the production of news. The raising of the link tax is already proving the platforms criticism correct that the Online News Act represents uncapped liabilities as well as added business uncertainty. No surprise that Meta has already dropped news links while Google is expected to follow through on their announcement and drop news links as well.

Ultimately, the blatantly obvious problem is that platforms are not playing ball and the push should be to try and woo those platforms back to the country. This obviously starts with rescinding the link tax and admitting that this whole sorry affair was a bad idea. Starting from scratch and coming up with a much more realistic solution (i.e. a fund model) also wouldn’t hurt.

Of course, that would actually require intelligent thought and critical thinking skills – something supports of this legislation are in dire short supply of. Unifor, who has a track record of coming up with terrible ideas on internet policy such as the call for internet censorship (can’t link to it because our article detailing what was said was ironically censored) a few years ago, has come up with yet another boneheaded idea. Unifor has apparently called on the government to further raise the link tax rate even more to a sky high 7% instead of the already raised 4%. I’m not even joking:

Unifor respectfully recommends that the contribution rate should be set at 7%. We would turn your attention to our intervention for the CRTC’s “BNOC 2023-138-1 – The Path Forward – Working towards a modernized regulatory framework regarding contributions to support Canadian and Indigenous content.” In that submission, we argue that the Canadian content creation and production contribution connected to the Online Streaming Act should be increased to from 5% to 7%, since the 5% amount was already not adequately supporting the creation and production of local programming, and especially local news.

The siphoning of advertising revenue by online digital platforms like Facebook and Google is a well-document phenomenon, and the financial model that previously supported Canadian newsmakers has been in its death throes for more than a decade. These news outlets are already in state of financial crisis, thousands of journalists have lost their jobs, and Canadians have lost access to vital local news. Unifor respectfully argues that the contribution rate for the Online News Act should re-balance the scale, acknowledging that historical crisis, while also setting a fair funding model for the future.

Therefore, Unifor recommends that the above section be amended so it now reads:

Contribution rate

  • The proposed contribution rate should re-balance the scale, acknowledging the historical crisis faced by Canadian news businesses, while also setting a fair funding model for the future.
  • A contribution rate of 7% would yield compensation figures that would help support Canadian journalists and media workers, as well as Canadian news businesses, in the production of high-quality, professional local, regional and national news.

It’s difficult to understate just how pants on head stupid these comments are. I mean, within these comments, Unifor admits that Canadians are already losing access to news. This is obviously in reference to Meta dropping news links. One of the largest complaints by the platforms is that the link tax would saddle platforms with uncapped liabilities. Unifor then turns around and argues that the solution to platforms leaving is to increase the liabilities platforms would be saddled with? On what planet does this make any ounce of sense here?

The most ridiculous thing in all of this is that this is a union we are talking about here. Unions are supposed to represent the interests of their memberships who are, in turn, employees. In this case, they are supposed to be representing the interests of a number of journalists. Yet, here they are advocating for idea’s that would only assure the demise of a number of players in the sector even more so than when the government idiotically raised the rates to 4%. When Google pulls the trigger, there’s going to be layoffs and bankruptcies in the media sector. That, in turn, would reduce membership and, consequently, union dues on top of it all.

This is seriously one of, if not, the most nakedly self-sabotaging thing I have ever seen a union do. It’s frustrating seeing the impending demise of a lot of livelihoods along the way. Canada’s news industry is already hurdling towards the cliff and what Unifor has effectively done is shout, “Step on it, Trudeau!”

If there was any doubt before, there shouldn’t be now. When Google decides to finally drop news links and all the harms to the sector follow after, organizations like Unifor will only have themselves to blame. I deeply wish someone over at Unifor can contact someone so they can talk some sense into them, but even then, I’m not sure they would be willing to listen. At that point, in that case, all I can say to Unifor is, “Your funeral.”

(Via @MGeist)

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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