Very interesting access to information request today. It shows just how reckless the Trudeau government is with regards to its plans — or rather, its lack of plans. We’ve got a scoop for you today. I’ll tell you the details in a moment. But I just want to tell you some behind the scenes stuff first.
You may not know it, but we file hundreds of access to information requests every year, mainly to the federal government, but also to provincial governments, city governments even universities and other public institutions. Sometimes we do several in a single day. The government delays most of them — Trudeau’s Liberals are the worst. They illegally hide a lot of facts from us, either claiming that records don’t exist, or illegally blacking them out.
We often have to appeal to the Information Commissioner. It’s a total effort. Most of the time, we find nothing — it’s like fishing. But sometimes you catch a whale. You might recall when one of our access to information requests found out that Canada was literally providing cold-weather military training to China’s PLA, right here in Canada at military bases, and Trudeau was ordering the military not to stop doing those joint projects, even though at the time China was holding two Canadians hostage, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
That was an incredible scoop. Sometimes ATIPs cost hundreds of dollars, sometimes even thousands, when little bureaucrats say we have to pay for thousands of pages of photocopies (even though we never ask for paper versions, just digital versions). But I usually know they have something to hide when they do that. If you like the fact that we’re doing this, probably filing more ATIPs than any other organization in the country other than perhaps the Official Opposition, you can help us at our special website, RebelInvestigates.com.
Anyways, today I have another little gem from our ATIPs. We asked the Heritage Department a simple question: provide us with copies of any analysis done on the economic/financial impacts of Meta/Facebook removing Canadian news content, since January 1, 2023.
Pretty simple, right? I mean, Trudeau and his series of second-rate cabinet ministers — Steven Guilbeault, Pablo Rodriguez, Pascale St. Onge — have declared war on Facebook for some reason.
(The reason is obvious: they want to milk hundreds of millions of dollars out of Facebook, and divert those funds to their allies in the media party, by forcing Facebook to pay any news company to which a person posted a link.)
Obviously, news companies love it when people link to them — we do; it sends us traffic, people discover us, maybe they sign up or even donate. Most news companies positively post to Facebook (for free) and even pay to run ads on Facebook, it’s such a benefit to the news companies. But Trudeau came up with the brilliant idea to make Facebook pay newspapers every time they link to them.
So Facebook did what they promised they’d do if Trudeau brought in this linking tax; they just stopped linking to newspapers in Canada (or other news websites). Trudeau, Guilbeault, Rodriguez, all of them — they claimed that Facebook was “stealing” from those newspapers by linking to them.
Facebook said fine and stopped linking to them. As they promised they would.
And that has cut off millions of visits a day to Canadian newspapers and other media. Just devastating — and completely legal, by the way. The law, called C-18, says Facebook has to pay a linking tax. Fine, so they won’t link. It’s completely lawful. What did Trudeau think would happen?
That’s what we asked, really. What did Trudeau think would happen? Or did he think about it at all? Does Trudeau think about anything at all? Do any of these airhead cabinet ministers? Remember this from Steven Guilbeault:
Yeah. So we actually asked for "copies of any analysis done on the economic/financial impacts of Meta/Facebook removing Canadian news content, since January 1, 2023.”
And we got back a six-page document. That’s it. Just six pages. Not 60 or 600. Let me show it to you.
There’s no dates on this, but we know from our request that it’s this year, 2023.
It's title: MEMORANDUM TO THE HONORABLE PABLO RODRIGUEZ PLATFORM EXIT FROM THE ONLINE NEWS MARKET
So remember, we asked for everything, anything about economic or financial impacts of going to war with Facebook. And this is all the government has (though we must acknowledge, given that it’s the Liberals, they’re probably lying and holding more embarrassing documents back).
"On June 2, 2023, Meta announced it will block Canadian and non-Canadian news on Facebook and Instagram for between 1-5% of Canadian users for several weeks.
In May 2023 Google appeared before House and Senate committees stating they may block or limit access to news in search results, should Bill C-18 receive Royal Assent.
And then a couple of paragraphs are blacked out. You can see the text there’s a number — 21(1)(a).
So the staffer was making suggestions to the minister, and that’s exempt.
But more to the point, you can see that they knew, Facebook couldn’t have been any clearer: if the linking tax was brought in, Facebook (and Instagram) would simply stop publishing links to Canadian news.
I’ll read more — they are only a few more pages. The next one is called “International Momentum”. I’ll share the first paragraph from it and then I’ll summarize the rest:
International momentum to regulate platforms' sharing of news is growing. In the US, the California Journalism Competition and Preservation Act cleared an important hearing with bipartisan support in May 2023. The California bill was recently introduced shortly after a similar federal bill failed to advance. If approved, it would direct digital advertising giants to pay news outlets a "journalism usage fee" when they sell advertising alongside news content.
So that’s California, the craziest, wokest state. I would think the law will be struck down under their U.S. First Amendment.
I’ll read one more:
The UK is considering a digital markets competition bill, introduced in April 2023. It would provide authority for pro-competition interventions in the digital news marketplace. Although publicly hailed as providing opportunities for publisher remuneration, unlike Australia and Canada, the UK bill does not specifically address issues related to the marketplace for online news. The expected impact on online news is, therefore, uncertain.
They then talk about plans in New Zealand, which became extremely censorious under the failed leadership of Jacinda Ardern. Remember her?
Yeah, her. And then they refer to other semi-free countries, including Indonesia and South Africa.
So that’s it. They call that momentum. A few proposals by some woke cranks. A few authoritarian regimes. But no-one is doing what Canada has done. Not even dictatorships. I laugh that this page is called “International Momentum”. But it shows how far out of the international norms Trudeau’s censorship and media regulation plans are.
The next page shows what happened when Australia tried a similar idea. It was a few years ago — Facebook simply stopped linking there too. So they absolutely, obviously knew what was going to happen.
There’s just one more page in this memo, “International Precedents”
Let me read a bit, because it shows how nuts these ideas are.
In 2022, France became the first country to implement the EU's copyright reform, granting press publishers a right to ask for payment when their content is displayed on online platforms. In response, Google no longer displayed press publishers' content within its search results, unless such display was authorized by the press publishers as free of charge.
So, you know how when you search for something on Google, it gives you the link, and then a sentence just to sum up what’s on the page?
Like when you search Google News for, say, the words Trudeau and Nazi it shows this.
So, the headline, a clickable link, and a one-sentence summary of the story. And then you click through if you’re interested. That’s amazing for newspapers — people pay for that, they do something called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, to try to make their newspaper get to the top of the first page, the first link.
It’s lifeblood to a newspaper. But Trueau’s plan will make Google pay for the pleasure of driving traffic to newspapers. Just like France did.
France is so super-smart, that they implemented a law that says Google has to pay to do that. So now, Google will just have the title and the link — but it won’t show you what the article is about, because then it would have to pay for that. Which would destroy the Internet and the whole inter part of it!
Could you imagine telling Google they have to pay to put someone in their search engine? People pay to be in it; imagine thinking, let’s make them pay people who show up on their rankings?
This is called “International precedents”. What a disaster.
They had this precedent from Australia:
In February 2021, Facebook pulled news services from Australia in response to proposed legislation, which included the removal of Government pages and Government-provided COVID-19 vaccination information.
Look at this item from the memo:
In late 2014, Google News closed in Spain for eight years in response to the country's legislation that forced it to pay a collective licensing fee to republish headlines or snippets of news.
For eight years Google wouldn’t show you any news in Spain. And here’s what the government bureaucrats said about that:
Studies from Spain suggest that the net effect of online news services being removed is that citizens had less access to news. In addition, as a result of removing Google News from Spain, large publishers saw an increase in direct traffic to their websites and increased revenues, whereas small publishers saw a decrease in revenues, likely due to decreased referral traffic from Google News.
Oh. So the CBC and Toronto Star would win. But any small guys — independent guys — would lose. Got it.
And…. That’s it. That the end of the memo. That’s it. Six pages; really four pages; with some minor redactions.
They have no studies; they did no studies. They didn’t care, or they didn’t think about it, or it’s just not important. They’re not really good at doing anything, are there, from foreign affairs to running a military to making airports work to vetting Nazis. They’re good at spin.
They didn’t even care to study, even a small, in-house study, what the effects on Canadian media would be, on the economy would be, by driving out Facebook and Instagram.
How much damage do you think they did? Over time, probably hundreds of millions of dollars. But of course, the big guys will be OK — they were in Spain. And Trudeau will bail out his friends. The rest — will be decimated.
They didn’t know. They didn’t care. They still don’t care. We literally got that ATIP back yesterday — as of yesterday, they still haven’t bothered to do an economic impact study.
There’s a saying, don’t ascribe to malice what can be ascribed to ignorance or a mistake.
No. Not after eight years. After eight years, after censorship law after censorship law, we can conclude that this is on purpose. Trudeau wants there to be only two types of media in Canada: government-controlled media, and government-banned media.
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