August 2023


Access to news is about to become somewhat more difficult for Canadians. Big Tech companies Meta and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) are retaliating against new legislation that would require them to pay news organizations for links to articles, and will be blocking links to articles on their platforms. So, those of you who rely on Google search or Facebook to access articles will need to find alternative ways to follow local and global events.

The issue is the Online News Act that Canada’s federal government passed earlier this summer. Both companies stated at the time their intent to eventually shut down Canadian news access on their sites. At the end of July, Meta announced that it had begun the process.

According to the feds, the Act is intended to “enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news market” by introducing a bargaining framework through which news businesses could “secure fair compensation when their news content is made available by dominant digital news intermediaries and generates economic gain.” In effect, it will require tech companies like social media platforms or search engines that act as ‘digital news intermediaries"‘ to compensate news organizations for hosting links to Canadian News content.

Supporters say the Act “is a way to keep tech giants in check and cut into their digital dominance, and that journalists should be compensated for their work being used to help tech giants bring in more eyes and thus more ad revenue,” says CTV News. Recent analysis from the Parliamentary Budget Officer shows the bill would shift around $329 million to the Canadian news industry each year.

Canada’s public broadcast CBC called Meta’s latest action irresponsible and said that it was “an abuse of their market power”.

But Meta and Google are opposed to the Act, and Google has called it an unfair “link-tax” that disrupts the “free linking” that is fundamental to how the web works.

“Unfortunately, despite our many efforts to offer reasonable and balanced solutions that would help achieve the goals of Bill C-18, this new law remains unworkable,” said Google.

So far, the scope of people affected remains limited, but the companies intend to block all access to news links on Facebook, Instagram, and Google Search when the Act goes into effect.

And when this happens, many Canadians who are used to accessing news through these sites will no longer be able to. Small community news sources like the PEN are therefore about to become more important for connecting communities about ongoing news and events.

As Big Tech companies clamp down on Canadians’ news access, the PEN will remain a free and accessible place for Ottawa residents to stay informed about their communities.

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

Stories from the PEN!

And now on to the Stories from the PEN, where you can read about inspiring individuals and organizations stepping up to engage in issues affecting our local communities.

  • Read words from Steve Wendt, a steering committee member of Rural Woodlands Ottawa, about the organization’s actions to stop forest and tree loss in Ottawa.

  • Ecology Ottawa has released a petition to call on Mayor Mark Sutcliffe to take climate action and show true climate leadership in our nation’s capital—read about it here.

  • Did you hear that the city government has placed a moratorium on all new solar, wind, and bioenergy projects until it settles on new zoning requirements for large-scale facilities, to protect farmland? Read more about it in The Energy Mix’s article, City of Ottawa Hits Pause on New Renewables.

  • In this month’s update from Sustainable Capacity Solutions, Chantel Haigh puts the organization Sustainable Philanthropy in the spotlight along with some tips for small NGO fundraising.

From the PEN Archives

In the September 2002 PEN, Alex Cullen wrote about the City’s Pesticide Reduction Strategy that was at the time moving into its final phase with a public debate about the proposed bylaw, which would ban the cosmetic use of pesticides in Ottawa.

“In the eyes of most health professionals, the health impacts of pesticides on humans warrant bans on the cosmetic use of these toxins. The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision permitting municipal bans on pesticide use has led to bylaws being considered in communities from coast to coast.”

Alex Cullen, Fall Focus on Pesticide Ban

Peace & Environment News, Volume 17: Number 7, Sept. 2002

Other News

In addition to this month’s PEN Stories, a few other local and national news threads from the past month to cover:

  • Two Tornadoes with wind speeds up to 155 km/h touched down in Barrhaven in the middle of the July, causing substantial property damage and one minor injury. Homeowners affected by the tornadoes may be eligible to cancel, reduce or refund part of their property taxes for the year.

  • Comments by Mayor Sutcliffe about the closure of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway’s active use program—which he said inconveniences more people than it benefits—sparked debate about the recurring summertime road closure. Tobi Nussbaum, CEO of the National Capital Commission (NCC), has since defended the closure by pointing to the City of Ottawa's official plan, which calls on the NCC to "reimagine Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Colonel By Drive to reduce the roads' importance as a commuter route in favour of pedestrian activity."

  • The federal and Ontario provincial governments are committing up to $7.5 million to support biosecurity measures to enhance food safety as part of the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP). The Ontario government says the funding will help eligible agri-food businesses and contributors enhance biosecurity measures to support animal and plant health, and food safety.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to connecting with you again next month through the PEN Newsletter. In the meantime, please use the comments section of the newsletter or email [email protected] with thoughts or questions.

--Christopher Bonasia, PEN editor

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

PERC appreciates all of our readers for giving us this chance to connect with members of our community, and we love being able to provide you with a forum to discuss pressing environmental and social justice issues.

But we also rely on your support to make this happen. If you are interested in helping our organization continue to use storytelling and networking to help individuals, non-profits, and community groups work locally for a greener and more peaceful world, please consider making a donation to the Peace and Environment Resource Centre. You can find out more on our website, or by using this link.

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