But the demise of Canadian journalism is unique in one respect. For over 50 years, Canadian law has incentivized businesses to spend their ad dollars in Canada. But we don’t apply those incentives to the digital realm, so as other countries scramble to stem the bleeding, Canada stands alone in ripping out the sutures. Where other countries are finding ways to require the platform monopolies to pay taxes and contribute to local content financing, Canada furrows its brow and claims to be paralyzed by the complexity of governing the digital economy. And where other countries are taking action to penalize platforms that disseminate hate speech and other illegal content, Canada does little more than express its disappointment.
Paying the price to pay the price
While the political and moral virtues of Canada’s policy inaction are the subject of some debate, the electoral implications are clear.
A recent poll by Nanos Research, conducted for FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, has found that Canadians are hungry for decisive regulation of platform monopolies like Facebook.
The poll shows a widespread belief that Canadian democracy is weaker because of the influence wielded by platforms like Facebook. Canadians believe that most people are unable to distinguish between propaganda and professional journalism online, and that the government should hold platforms like Facebook accountable when they publish false or illegal content – holding them to the same standard as traditional, professional media such as broadcasters and newspapers.