Congratulations to the management and editorial staff of the Cowichan Valley Citizen for stating that, in light of the Online News Act, they are “not going anywhere.” It is extremely important that we do not bow down to limited access to the news or improper actions that confine it.
The reality of Bill C-18 (The Online News Act) however, is more nuanced and deeper than that. The act has blocked the dissemination of Canadian news on social media platforms. In today’s digital world this means that a significant portion of the public square has been removed. Non-Canadian news sources have also been obstructed. When I tried to post them on Meta they were blocked.
What does this mean? Whatever the original intent of the Liberal party in initiating their dispute with Meta, the reality is that we have been censored. Simply put, we cannot gain access to information on platforms where only scant weeks before we could. That is the bottom line. As Canadians we should be incensed about it and determined to restore access to the information and news we need. Are we? It doesn’t appear so.
It is interesting to note that the two groups most deeply affected by this are average Canadians and independent media organizations who depend on platforms like Meta or Instagram to get their message across to the public. If we are going to be reduced to state approved media funded by the government while being prevented from accessing differing viewpoints then what does this say about us as a nation?
And if both we and independent media are the targets of this bill, then it is clear that we have regressed from an nation valuing free expression into something very different, and that will have profound implications for our future. Everyone should strongly oppose this, in whatever way they can. Our rights to both information and free expression are at risk if we do not.