Missed opportunity threatens democratic debate

Feb 27, 2018


Ottawa – Canadian media and journalism are fighting for their lives, but according to the media watchdog FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, the federal government missed an opportunity to address this crisis in today’s budget.

Canadian tax law provides companies with a financial incentive to advertise in Canadian newspapers, magazines, and television over foreign-based outlets. However, these incentives do not apply to digital media.

This loophole encourages the outflow of $5 billion in ad spending -- mostly to Google and Facebook -- starving Canadian media of the resources needed to tell Canadian stories and deliver the fact-based journalism that keeps our democracy healthy.

FRIENDS has urged Ottawa to close this loophole so that Canadian media can compete fairly.

“This budget has missed an opportunity to close the loophole and address the crisis facing Canadian media and journalism,” says FRIENDS’ spokesperson, Ian Morrison. “The media assistance package proposed today is a token response that fails to address the scope and scale of the problem, and opens the door to government interference in Canadian newsrooms.”

According to Morrison, this loophole gives US internet monopolies an unfair advantage over Canada’s own tech and media sectors. “Ottawa’s inaction on this file is pushing Canadian media and journalism closer to the brink. This threatens our civic discourse and with it, our very democracy.”

If Ottawa fails to act soon, Google and Facebook may soon control public speech in Canada, a troubling prospect for anyone concerned about the rise of Trump authoritarianism, and the importance of rational, fact-based dialogue for the survival of a healthy, Canadian democracy.


For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592 • jim@friends.ca