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The Hub unveils a new team of contributing writers

News

The Hub is celebrating its second anniversary by announcing a new team of contributing writers that will be regularly filling our pages with top-notch insights.

Readers can still enjoy the regular schedule of news dispatches, interviews, viewpoints, and, now, a regular rhythm of some of our best contributors. Our readers will be familiar with these writers, either because they are some of the most respected experts in their fields or because they’ve already written some of The Hub’s most popular viewpoints.

Get to know our writers by reading about them below and, before long, you’ll be seeing their insights regularly on our website and our daily newsletter Per Diem.

Amanda Lang, an award-winning business journalist, will bring her experience as bestselling author and leading journalist to exploring the intersections of economics, business and public policy to a bi-weekly podcast and YouTube series at The Hub. We are also looking forward to Amanda’s occasional contributions as viewpoint writer.

Ginny Roth, the national practice lead for government relations at Crestview Strategy who previously worked at Queen’s Park and as party organizer for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, will be writing about culture and governance. Ginny has written popular essays for The Hub on family policy and Canada’s birth rate, empathy for NIMBYs, and how the concept of intersectionality can be useful. Her experience extends from policy and theory to the pragmatic realities of political life, giving our readers a 360-degree view of the issues.

Howard Anglin, a doctoral student at Oxford University who has previously served in key roles in the prime minister’s office and the office of the premier of Alberta, will continue to be The Hub‘s most elegant writer on virtually any topic that occurs to him. Howard has been one of this publication’s most prolific and most-read writers since The Hub launched two years ago, even writing a rebuttal to our founding essay. Howard never fails to surprise. Case in point: his most popular piece in the last year was a top 10 list of non-Christmassy Christmas movies.

Joanna Baron, the executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a legal charity that protects constitutional freedoms in courts of law and public opinion, will be writing on legal issues for The Hub. Joanna’s ability to illustrate where law and culture collide is unparalleled, such as in this piece about the perils of over-active regulators.

Karen Restoule, the co-founder of BOLD Realities, which works to advance economic reconciliation, will write for us on Indigenous issues. Karen has written popular pieces for The Hub on the dark realities of reconciliation and how to commemorate Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Karen is Ojibwe from Dokis First Nation.

Richard Shimooka, a senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute, will be our expert voice on defence and foreign policy. In just the last few months, Richard has explained why spy balloons were suddenly being spotted in North America, the political element of the war in Ukraine, and why Canada is far behind in the race for the future of warfare.

Steve Lafleur, a public policy analyst based in Toronto, has written some of his best stuff recently about how Toronto is unlivable. Somehow that struck a chord with our readers. Steve will continue to write for us about housing and economics to which, as a proud neoliberal, he tends to bring rational, market-focused solutions. There’s no better example of that than Steve’s recent piece pointing out the strange logic of plastic bag bans, which quickly became one of more most popular pieces ever.

Trevor Tombe, a professor of economics at the University of Calgary and a research fellow at The School of Public Policy, will continue to help Hub readers make sense of public finances and how it will affect them. Recently, Trevor has explained why homes remain unaffordable despite recent interest rate hikes that drove down prices and, if you’re looking for good news, he laid out why the Canadian Pension Plan is in good shape these days. Trevor even took the time last year to explain why he, and most other economists, were wrong about inflation. That’s exactly the kind of intellectual rigour and honesty that we love at The Hub.

Rounding out the crew of contributing writers is Malcolm Jolley, who has been a regular wine columnist at The Hub for nearly two years. Malcolm offers practical advice, such as which wine to buy for the holidays, but he also makes some fascinating forays into the broader culture. His essay on the “third places,” between work and home, and his tribute to the civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby are two of his strongest pieces.

Patrick Luciani will also continue to contribute bi-weekly book reviews on Fridays, which will cover politics, history, and culture. Patrick’s defence of Steven Pinker’s rationality, his clear-eyed appraisal of the Cuban Missile Crisis after 60 years, and his sympathetic view of Robert Kagan’s Iraq War regrets are all examples of the kind of balanced wisdom he brings to The Hub.

Jack Mitchell, The Hub’s poet-in-residence, will continue to brighten up our daily newsletter Per Diem with his lyrical and insightful epigrams. Jack is based in Halifax, where he is an associate professor of Classics at Dalhousie University, and his latest book, The Odyssey of Star Wars: an Epic Poem, a retelling of the original Star Wars film trilogy, is available for purchase.

‘We’re going to have to get out of the market’: Facebook pledges to ban news if legislation passes

News

The government’s online news legislation is winding its way to a final showdown with big tech companies while Facebook’s parent company Meta is doubling down on its threat to ban news from its platform if the bill becomes law.

The bill would require digital platforms to negotiate deals with qualifying online media companies and compensate them for content that appears on the platforms. Google and Facebook have pilloried the legislation, saying it’s unfair to force tech companies to pay for news.

“You’re basically putting like a toll booth in front of every link for a news article. And you can see why quickly that becomes untenable for us because we can’t control who puts it on the platform,” said Kevin Chan, the global policy campaign strategies director at Meta, in an exclusive interview on the most recent episode of The Hub‘s roundtable podcast.

“And so if we’re up against a rock and a hard place then we’re going to have to get out of the market,” said Chan.

That would mean Facebook disallowing news stories on its platform, which the company briefly did in Australia when similar legislation was enacted. Google recently conducted a five-week trial in which news links were blocked for some users.

The legislation, known as the Online News Act, passed third reading in the House of Commons in December and will now be studied in the Senate before it can become law.

At issue for both Google and Meta is the premise behind the bill that tech companies are unfairly gaining revenue by allowing links to news articles on these online platforms. The companies argue that news companies, which gain readers from Google search and Facebook links, are actually benefitting massively, and for free, from these platforms.

“A news publication can have a presence on Facebook, but so can a small business. So can a university, so can an activist, so can a politician,” said Chan. “What they all have in common is that they are there voluntarily. We don’t pay them to be there. They have a presence on Facebook, presumably, because they see value in it.”

Chan said it has been difficult for the tech companies to argue against the bill because the fundamental premise, that linking to news stories is somehow stealing that content, is so flawed.

“You can create a law that says, well, the earth is flat. But that doesn’t actually mean the earth is flat. And so this is a bit of a challenge with this,” said Chan.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said the government is trying to help news organizations, which have seen advertising revenues fall precipitously over the last two decades and mostly flow to Google and Meta, stay alive in the face of these tough market conditions.

“Many news media outlets, including radio stations, newspapers, and television networks, have shut down. The bill needs to ensure that platforms also contribute to the growth of local journalism, especially smaller media outlets in the various provinces and regions,” said Rodriguez, in the House of Commons in December.

Rodriguez said it’s a mistake to see Bill C-18 as a “panacea” for the news industry, but as one tool among many to support the media in Canada.

“It is not the only (policy), since the government has brought forward several other measures to support a free and independent press, including the payroll tax credit and other programs,” said Rodriguez.

A study last year by the Parliamentary Budget Officer found that qualifying news organizations can expect to share about $329.2 million in revenue each year thanks to the legislation, if it passes.

Chan said there is some hope for the tech companies that, when the bill goes to the Senate, it will be amended in a way that allows Meta to support it.

“They may make amendments, we certainly hope they will. But obviously, it’s possible in their wisdom that the bill will be passed as it was in the House. And if that happens, then I think we’re kind of done,” said Chan.

The Senate committee that will be studying the bill includes two former journalists, Pamela Wallin and Paula Simons, who has already expressed misgiving about the legislation.

“As someone who spent 23 years as a newspaper writer, I am desperately concerned about the survival of the news industry. But at first glance, I think Bill C-18 a somewhat dubious solution. It needs tough scrutiny,” wrote Simons on Twitter last year.