The Liberals seem to lack the courage of their convictions.
The Liberal government – along with the NDP, Bloc, and much of Canada’s established media organizations – are going all in on their effort to assert control over social media companies and make those companies pay people to use a service that is currently being provided for free.
Since those companies – Meta (Facebook), and Google can avoid making those payments by simply not allowing news links in Canada, that is the path they have followed.
The Liberals were warned over and over again – including by some more reasonable media activists and industry experts – that if they didn’t make changes to the absurd Bill C-18 then this would be exactly the result.
They ignored those warnings, and here we are.
But the Liberals show no sign of changing course. Instead, they are doubling-down and tripling-down on the idea that those social media companies are a ‘threat’ to democracy in Canada.
Justin Trudeau even compared those companies – one of which is owned by a Jewish person – to Canada’s fascist enemies in World War Two. Trudeau likened the ‘fight’ against those companies to Canada’s fight for democracy and freedom in World War Two.
Trudeau has thus chosen to frame this issue in the starkest possible terms. In his view, the social media companies represent a massive threat to the country, and those siding with those companies are hurting the nation.
That raises an interesting question however:
Why are the Liberals still using Facebook?
As noted by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, the Liberals show no sign of curtailing their Facebook use, even as they argue the company is incredibly dangerous:
“If Trudeau really believes Meta is threatening democracy—he must do a full boycott. No more posts or Liberal Party ads. Go cold turkey.
It is a small price to pay to save our entire democracy.”
If Trudeau really believes Meta is threatening democracy—he must do a full boycott. No more posts or Liberal Party ads. Go cold turkey.
It is a small price to pay to save our entire democracy. #ItsAllAnAct
— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) July 6, 2023
Liberals still widely using Facebook
As you can see below, Justin Trudeau is still using Facebook as usual:
Those photos and videos were both posted after Trudeau compared Facebook to Canada’s World War Two enemies.
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is still using Facebook:
Liberals still advertising on Facebook
Liberal officials made a big deal out of the federal government ending ads on Facebook. Yet, it seems the Liberal Party isn’t doing the same. They continue to advertise on the platform:
The claims about Bill C-18 and fighting for democracy might be a bit more credible if the Liberal party weren’t still advertising on Facebook, @pablorodriguez wasn’t posting on Facebook, and other government MPs didn’t race to create Threads accounts and link to news articles. pic.twitter.com/tyzfBeaPYE
— Michael Geist (@mgeist) July 8, 2023
The Liberals also continue to promote links to Facebook on their partisan websites:
Facebook and IG links are still on the liberals website. pic.twitter.com/kiFAVsy5Id
— Winston Smith (@6079xSmithxW) July 6, 2023
Liberal MP Mark Gerrettsen is promoting his new Threads account. Threads – launched as a Twitter competitor – is owned by Meta:
Why are the Liberals attacking democracy?
Now, I obviously don’t think Facebook & Google are threats to democracy.
But let’s take the Liberals at their word for a moment.
Let’s pretend they are right about those companies posing a threat, and let’s pretend they are right about those companies being comparable to our enemies in World War Two.
If we do so, we must then come to the conclusion that the Liberals themselves are aiding and abetting the attack on Canadian democracy, and are thus themselves comparable to the fascist regimes we fought against in World War Two.
The Liberals are giving money to Facebook by advertising on the platform. Unlike the free reach offered by the platform to all users, advertising goes a step further and means the Liberals are giving money to Facebook to reach specific users with specific messages.
Why would the Liberals continue to do this if Facebook is a threat?
Why would they refuse to end their complicity in perpetuating that threat?
Why would they posture publicly about their supposedly ‘principled’ stance against Facebook while still using it to push their political messages?
What is the answer?
Either the Liberals lack the courage of their convictions, or they don’t believe what they are saying at all
Likely, it’s the latter.
The Liberals – almost out of nowhere – have dramatically escalated the rhetoric against the social media companies.
The fact that they are still willing to use those social media companies for their own political benefit tells you that they don’t really believe what they are saying.
They don’t really see Facebook as a threat – or if they do, it’s not about it being a threat against democracy, it’s about being a threat against their own effort to assert government control over the media.
After all, the businesses that are being most damaged by Liberal government attacks on social media are the businesses that successfully competed in the digital marketplace – companies that are independent of government control:
“Pulling news would have a devastating impact on the whole sector, in particular digital publishers like us that are growing,” said Jeff Elgie, VM’s CEO. If the platforms’ news block becomes permanent, “I wouldn’t see a viable, investable business anymore”
“Pulling news would have a devastating impact on the whole sector, in particular digital publishers like us that are growing,” said Jeff Elgie, VM’s CEO. If the platforms’ news block becomes permanent, “I wouldn’t see a viable, investable business anymore”https://t.co/U4lGZdMEFS pic.twitter.com/zvqOlqXwTl
— Michael Geist (@mgeist) July 7, 2023
Instead, they see the campaign against Facebook and Google as a way to posture as the defenders of Canada against ‘evil’ big corporations. It’s a profoundly populist and ignorant approach, which is predictably having negative consequences. But those consequences are being spun as further proof of the perfidy of the tech companies. The more C-18 fails, the more the Liberals claim they are justified in their actions.
Hypocrisy based on ignorance
As noted above, the Liberal approach to social media companies is based upon ignorance. This ignorance extends to the many backers of C-18, including most of the legacy media and even a growing number of Canadian provincial governments and large Canadian corporations.
In effect, they are pushing for a brute-force redistribution of wealth from social media companies who earned their wealth through successfully competing in the free market to companies that have failed in the free market and are demanding others pay the price for their failure.
It’s profoundly ignorant from an economic perspective, and it’s also profoundly unethical. Further, it’s profoundly counterproductive in the long-run. The more Canada goes down the road of using government power to bail out those who failed in economic competition, the less competitive our country will become, and the more other more competitive countries will race ahead of us.
So, Liberal hypocrisy and their obsession with control will not only harm Canadian democracy, it will harm our economy and our long-term prospects as a nation. For this reason, Canadians must stand against Bill C-18 and must defend the principles of true freedom of expression and limited government.
Photo – Screengrab