Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge announced the "historic development" Wednesday, noting that Google has agreed to pay Canadian publishers $100 million annually for promoting their news stories.
Meta, which includes Facebook and Instagram, is still refusing to pay, saying it has no intention of posting Canadian news while the Online News Act, or Bill C-18, remains in force.
St-Onge inherited Trudeau’s internet censorship file in a summer cabinet shuffle. The Liberals have also passed Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, which forces online media to adhere to Canadian content rules.
"We have found a path forward to answer Google's questions about their process and the Act. Google wanted certainty about the amount of compensation it would have to pay to Canadian news outlets," St-Onge said at a news conference in the foyer of the House of Commons.
"Many doubted that we would be successful, but I was confident that we would find a way to address Google's concerns and make sure that Canadians would have access to news in Canada on their platform," she said, adding that the Liberal government made "absolutely no concessions" to get the deal.
However, the Online News Act provides the federal government with broad powers of media control.
At the last Liberal policy convention, party members passed a resolution that would force media outlets with stories based on anonymous sources or whistleblowers to out these people. The Online News Act suggests that’s exactly what can happen now under the government’s legislation as Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley told Sen. Pamela Wallin (CSG-SK) about how the government can now be “snooping” in the newsroom.
The third portion of Trudeau’s censorship legislation is expected to be introduced in the new year. The Online Safety Bill, which was previously introduced before the last federal election, plans to introduce legal measures to suppress or abolish “disinformation” and “misinformation” from the internet. However, as the bill’s planners have indicated, neither of those terms will be defined in the legislation.
Trudeau noted the imminent arrival of the bill during a recent summit between Canada and European Union leaders.
The $100 million extracted from Google will be indexed to inflation and provided to "a wide range of news businesses across the country, including independent news businesses and those from Indigenous and official-language minority communities."
"Following extensive discussions, we are pleased that the Government of Canada has committed to addressing our core issues with Bill C-18, which included the need for a streamlined path to an exemption at a clear commitment threshold," said President of Global Affairs at Google and Alphabet Kent Walker in a statement.
"While we work with the government through the exemption process based on the regulations that will be published shortly, we will continue sending valuable traffic to Canadian publishers," Walker said.
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