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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith at UCP Annual General Meeting in October, 2022. Calgary Herald / YouTube

(LifeSiteNews) — Alberta premier Danielle Smith has said she is very “concerned” about new federal legislation that, if passed, would regulate how online news media is shared on social media.

While speaking during a recent radio interview, Smith said that she had been talking with “members of the media,” in particular “the alternative media, who are very concerned about some of the laws that are coming down at the federal level.” 

Smith noted that the independent media “think” and fear the looming internet legislation from the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “might run them out of business.”   

“Because they’re interfering with their ability to freely put messages out there,” explained Smith. 

While not mentioning which bills in particular to which she was referring, the Trudeau government last Wednesday decided to fast-track Bill C-18, titled the Online News Act,” rushing it through the House of Commons and its first of three reading in the Senate. 

The bill had the full support of all parties except the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), whose MPs blasted the fast passage of the bill and voiced their concerns that the legislation would effectively force social media companies to pay Canadian legacy media for news content shared on their platforms, to the detriment of independent outlets. 

“Simply put, this law would force Facebook, Google and other internet companies to prioritize CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and other government-approved news outlets on our feed over the smaller alternative news media platforms that may be more critical of the NDP-Liberal view of the world,” CPC MP Brad Redekopp said during the debate about the bill last week. 

According to the bill’s text, news outlet that the are given the label of a “qualified Canadian journalism organization” could be given favorable rankings on Big Tech platforms, and would even be entitled to “fair compensation” whenever their news content is shared on such sites. 

In light of this, critics have warned that the law would “kill” new media and “entrench” government-funded legacy news sites. 

According to Derek Fildebrandt, who is the publisher and CEO of the independent Western Standard, Bill C-18 is a direct attack on media that does not get government funding.

“For all practical purposes the way Canadians consume media will have the clock set back 30 years [with Bill C-18]. No more reading your news on your phone or tablet in the morning. Get ready to pony up for a daily, old-fashioned physical newspaper subscription for your morning read, and book an hour off after dinner to sit down and watch the nightly newscast on your television,” wrote Fildebrandt in a recent blog post.  

“It would mean the death of the new media in Canada as we know it.” 

Smith has past hinted Alberta could flout federal censorship laws

During the early days of her campaign run to become the leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta (UCP) and consequently the premier of the province, Smith suggested the idea that she could create a provincial internet firewall to bypass federal internet censorship laws with the possible help of Elon Musk’s Starlink. 

Smith went as far as promising to “protect the right of every Albertan to express their opinion – left, right and everything in between – without fear of Ottawa’s censorship.” 

At the time, Smith was concerned about another piece of legislation before the Senate, Bill C-11, that also deals with internet censorship. 

C-11, which like C-18 has faced immense criticism for its implications on freedom of speech, recently passed its second reading in the Senate.

Critics have long warned that Bill C-11 will stifle free speech online, and even Big Tech giants YouTube and Apple, who both have a history of censorship, haveurged the Senate to stall the passing of the bill.