Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez announced in a press conference today that the federal government will be suspending advertising on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram as a response to Meta’s decision to block news content following the passing of Bill C-18.
Rodriguez referred to Facebook’s decision to end news content in Canada as “unreasonable and irresponsible.”
He added, “if the government does not stand up to that kind of bullying and intimidation, then who will?”
Rodriguez joined forces with NDP MP Peter Julian and Bloc Quebecois MP Martin Champoux, who both backed the legislation during the committee process, to detail the government’s plan of action following the exits of the platforms.
The decision to suspend advertising, Champoux said, sends a profound message that Google and Meta should respect Canadian law.
Champoux also praised the decision of Quebecor and Cogeco, who also announced this morning that they are withdrawing advertising investments from Facebook and Instagram, and encouraged others to follow suit.
The government invests about $10 million per year in advertising on Meta’s platforms, none of which, Rodriguez said, will go into the government’s pockets, but rather will be reinvested in major campaigns.
The Liberal Party is currently still running ads on Facebook, but, Rodriguez contended, “the government is one thing and the party is another.”
Rodriguez, however, said that the government is willing to continue to negotiate with Google to address the company’s concerns with the legislation.
“Google wants to keep talking, discussing, finding a path forward. And the discussions are not easy, to be honest,” he said. “We may disagree on a few things. But what is clear on our side is that solution can only come around the table. Meta, on the other hand, is not talking to us. I don’t think it’s good for anyone – not for them, not for the government – because the only way we can find something that is positive for all of us, including our democracy, is if we find solutions.”
Rodriguez added that his government is certain that it will come to an agreement with Google on major issues, and that they are scheduled to have a meeting soon.
He also invited Meta to “come to the table” and have a discussion. “I’m sure there is a solution,” he added. “Regulations can answer a lot of your questions.”