The Liberal Government’s Parochial Attitude Towards ‘Big Tech’ Is The Kind Of Thinking That Causes Nations To Fall Behind

The Liberal attempt to shakedown tech companies they have no leverage over, and the framing of the issue as some sort of righteous battle is something that will cause long-term damage to our country unless it is swiftly reversed.

They aren’t stopping.

Despite both Meta and Google having made it obvious that the Liberal government has no leverage over them and planning to end the availability of Canadian news links on their platforms, the Liberals continue to push the same kind of rhetoric that put Canada in such a disastrous position when it comes to the future of the news industry.

Here’s a bit of what Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has said on Twitter since Google’s latest announcement:

“The Online News Act is simple.

Tech giants should compensate news organizations fairly for their work.

Watch👇 for my @CTV_PowerPlay interview on Google saying they will pull news from Canada.”

Unsurprisingly, he also launched a partisan attack:

“Our government: Stands up for Canadian news organizations by levelling the playing field and ensuring tech giants pay their fair share for news.

@PierrePoilievre: No thanks, I’ll stand with the foreign tech giants instead of Canadians.”

This one is my ‘favourite’:

“Big tech would rather spend money changing their platforms to block news from Canadians instead of paying a small share of the billions they make in advertising dollars.

Canadians won’t be bullied. Big tech isn’t bigger than Canada.”

It’s hilarious for Rodriguez to claim “big tech isn’t bigger than Canada,” when the numbers say the complete opposite:

“Big tech isn’t bigger than Canada.”

Canadian population: 40 million

Total Facebook users: 3 billion

Total Google users: 4.3 billion


The Liberals must have some polling showing that picking a fight with ‘big tech’ is popular, because it’s tough to think of any other reason they would imagine that such easily disprovable rhetoric would help them.

They are likely counting on voters to just take a quick glance at the headlines and reporting and see Liberal politicians claiming they’re ‘standing up for Canada’ against companies run by ‘foreign billionaires,’ and not look into it any further.

And, since the consequences of C-18 weaken independent media and will make the rest of the press more dependent on government funding, that’s also something the Liberals see as beneficial to them.

Whether or not it’s a sound political tactic in the short-term, the long-term damage of this kind of thinking will be significant.

A parochial attitude that will ensure Canada is left behind

The global economy is incredibly competitive, and becoming more competitive all the time. As knowledge becomes more and more widely diffused around the world, we are in essence competing against a larger and larger pool of people.

Additionally, the stakes of the competition have risen dramatically.

The idea that a globalized world would bring peace is fading, and is being replaced with the realization that – in the near-term at least – ideological trade & military blocs are a necessary way to ensure our economic and national security. The idea of ‘friendshoring’ is an inevitable response to the fact that Europe cannot afford to be dependent on Russia for energy, and the wider Western world cannot afford to be dependent on China for things like rare earth minerals, advanced chips and manufactured goods.

If there is a possibility that you and your allies will be in a war against a country or rival bloc, it would be the height of irresponsibility to be dependent on that same bloc for the key inputs you need for your economy and military industry.

By the same token, it would be deeply irresponsible to pick fights with your closest allies and with companies that are essential to your ability to innovate.

Unfortunately, with their parochial and arrogant rhetoric and policies regarding the ‘big tech’ companies, the Liberals are putting Canada on a path where we are bound to fall behind other nations.

In a previous column, I discussed this in reference to our weak per capita GDP numbers:

Canada’s Bold Experiment In Pretending Per Capita GDP Doesn’t Matter

Clearly, a hostile attitude towards some of the most successful companies in the world and our declining standard of living are part of the same deeper issue.

‘Foreign tech companies?’

The Liberal rhetoric towards American tech companies is also quite suspect.

Remember when they called Elon Musk a ‘foreign tech billionaire’ even though he holds Canadian Citizenship?

It was a move designed to score political points, rather than address anything in a substantive way.

Similarly, given the close ties between Canada and the United States, the deep integration of our economies, the many Canadians who work for large tech companies in both their US and Canadian offices, and the many Canadians who use American products on a daily basis without ever thinking of those products as foreign, does it make any sense for the Liberals to be trying to cast Google and Facebook as hostile foreign firms?

Where was that kind of rhetoric when companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party were buying up sensitive Canadian firms – including firms related to our national security and the national security of our allies?

Why would the Liberals use such aggressive rhetoric against American companies while not using the same rhetoric against Communist China?

The world won’t wait

Canada is free to choose the path of parochialism, centralized control, and complaining rather than competing.

But we can’t escape the consequences of choosing that path.

Other less parochial, more competitive, and more innovative countries – like the United States – will simply continue to get richer and richer, while we fall disproportionately behind. It’s already happening, as our per capita GDP continues to lag further and further behind that of the United States and many other comparable nations.

Of course, this is not inevitable.

Canada is a country filled with intelligent, innovative, and hard-working people. We have much to offer the world, and our strong human capital combined with our abundant natural resources could turn us into an economic powerhouse and a significant military contributor to our alliances.

But that won’t happen if we spend our time trying to restrain those who are the most successful and if we spend our time whining about companies like Google and Facebook. The government needs to get out of the way and let individual Canadians and Canadian businesses succeed or fail on our own merits. Instead of demanding more government intervention, bailouts, and censorship, Canadians should be demanding that the government simply step back and unleash the competitive potential and drive of our country.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – Twitter


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