OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) –– Canada’s telecommunications regulatory body has said it could take years to finalize the implementation of the Trudeau government’s internet censorship bill, C-18, the controversial “Online News Act” which has been described as “Orwellian” by critics.
Canada’s Senate passed the Online News Act, or Bill C-18, in June and it quickly became law. This new law forces social media companies to pay Canadian legacy media for news content shared on their platforms.
In a statement issued last Thursday, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which oversees all telecommunications in Canada, said that it will “launch a public consultation this fall to gather views [concerning the implementation of the law],” and that “All comments received will form part of the public record and inform the CRTC decision.”
After the consultation phase, starting in the “Summer 2024,” the CRTC will “publish the framework and code of conduct,” and will “also recruit qualified independent arbitrators, consider applications for eligibility from news organizations, and begin information gathering.”
Not until 2025, says the CRTC, or when “eligible news organizations and arbitrators are in place,” “mandatory bargaining can begin” between all parties involved.
Some Canadians may be surprised to learn that Bill C-18, while formally enshrined in law, is not yet in effect, especially considering Big Tech company Meta – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram – has already begun blocking news content on their platforms from being viewed by Canadians in anticipation of the enforcement of the bill.
However, this fact was confirmed by Trudeau’s newly-appointed heritage minister, Pascal St-Onge, last week, who explained to reporters that Bill C-18 is not “in effect right now.”
“It has been voted but it’s not being applied right now,” he said.
The CRTC, as part of its Online News Act process, is asking media organizations, including social media giants Meta and Google, for their input in implementing the new law.
While the Trudeau government seems committed to enforcing the law, the consequences since its passing have not gone uncriticized by opponents.
Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre recently told reporters that Meta’s act of hiding news from citizens in response to the Trudeau government’s Online News Act is a reality comparable to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”
Poilievre has also said that should his Conservatives win the next election, currently slated for 2025, his government would repeal Bill C-18 among other internet regulation laws passed by Trudeau’s Liberals.
Non-governmental experts have also chimed in on Bill C-18, often to voice their displeasure with the Trudeau government.
Dr. Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, has repeatedly warned that Bill C-18 is an attack on independent media, as it gives the CRTC discretion over which sites will be considered legitimate news in the eyes of social media companies and which will not.
Publisher and CEO of the independently-run news website the Western Standard, Derek Fildebrandt, has likewise blasted Bill C-18, arguing that it is a direct attack on media that does not get government funding and poses an existential threat to all independent reporting in the nation.
As pressure mounts against Trudeau, he has tried to deflect blame on social media giant Meta, saying it is the Big Tech company’s fault Canadians cannot access news via Facebook and Instagram. Just last week, Trudeau demanded that Meta allow wildfire news to be shared on its platforms, even though it is because of his government’s own bill that Meta began blocking the news in the first place.