‘No actual legal, logical, or moral case’: Five Tweets reacting to Ottawa’s agreement with Google

The Google sign is shown over an entrance to the company's new building in New York on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023, in New York. (Peter Morgan/AP Photo.)

On November 29, the federal government announced an agreement with Google that will see the Big Tech firm make annual payments of $100 million to Canadian news organizations to support the production of journalistic content. The agreement, which fulfills Google’s obligations under the Online News Act, averts the risk that the company would block Canadian news on its platform when the law takes full effect next month.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge described the agreement as a “historic development” and a meaningful capital infusion into news media companies. The reaction across the industry, however, was mixed. Here are five Tweets reacting to the agreement and its implications for the Canadian news media industry.

Veteran Globe and Mail columnist Andrew Coyne, a long-time opponent of news media bailouts, decried the agreement as “strictly opportunistic” and lacking a principled-based policy rationale.

Leith Dunick, a local Thunder Bay journalist, expressed relief that a deal was reached because of the damage that could have resulted from Google blocking Canadian news content on its platform. Although it may be difficult to estimate the magnitude of these damages, Carleton University journalism professor Chris Waddell had recently warned that if Google exited the market it would represent a “dramatic loss for all news organizations in Canada, both big and small.”

Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor, characterized the agreement as a compromise on both sides. He also noted that last week’s announcement in the Fall Economic Statement of more government funding for the industry was designed to offset the effects of Meta exiting the news market instead of reaching its own agreement with the government.

Macdonald-Laurier Institute senior fellow and regular Hub contributor Peter Menzies described the agreement as a “surrender” on the part of the government that avoided a “catastrophic Google shutdown.” That Google’s annual payment is about $72 million less than the government had set out in its draft regulations in September may be viewed by some as evidence of Ottawa’s ultimate compromise.

Conservative Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner raised questions about how the agreement will be implemented, including what news companies will ultimately receive funding. There are outstanding questions about with whom Google will negotiate compensation terms and the distribution of funds between legacy organizations and new industry players.

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