Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has proposed that news media outlets in Canada should have to obtain a government license in order to operate – a proposal that’s being described as “scary” and “totalitarian”.
Guilbeault’s proposal comes after a panel of broadcast experts submitted a report called “Canada’s Communications Future: Time To Act” to the Canadian government last week.
The report contains a total of 97 recommendations which include forcing digital news sites to obtain a license from a government body such as the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and allowing the CRTC to mandate what “sources of accurate, trusted, and reliable sources of news” are.
When asked about how the government would regulate websites under these proposals on CTV’s Question Period, Guilbeault said that for distributors of content in Canada, “We would ask that they have a license, yes.”
Trudeau cabinet minister: all news websites must now get a government licence. pic.twitter.com/x10AhtQAPb
Guilbeault added that the government plans to table a bill related to regulate Canadian news media outlets by the end of the year.
Guilbeault was also asked about concerns that people had about the proposals leading to the regulation of international digital media outlets.
He responded by saying “Frankly, I’m not sure I see what the big deal is” and added that other companies in other sectors such as finance comply with Canadian law.
Politicians, tech executives, and Candian journalists took to Twitter to express their shock at Guilbeault’s proposals.
After the $600M media bailout carrot, now comes the stick.
First you’ll need a government licence. Then you must follow government norms and regulations for content, or else you lose the licence
Leftist “tolerance” and “diversity” in action. https://t.co/7HPAzkMAMc
— Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) February 2, 2020
? this sounds odd! https://t.co/mlxCXFrgmH
— Rob Leathern (@robleathern) February 3, 2020
This honestly is just scary. Imagine saying you need a government license to start a website. https://t.co/qRIkdElbqV
— Kaz Nejatian (@CanadaKaz) February 3, 2020
I think we all know which news outlets would and wouldn’t get a licence. This is one of those many times Canadians have to say “NO!” to this kind of Totalitarian style of governing. @s_guilbeault you don’t have my permission as a Canadian to do this. #cdnpoli #FreedomOfSpeech https://t.co/FS3fD7ujv8
— Shane Wenzel (@ShaneWenzel) February 3, 2020
At what point do we ask @cancivlib, @CJFE, @caj, @PENCanada,. to change their misleading names? They literally haven’t said a word about Trudeau’s relentless censorship. Because their directors are on the take — they’re all from the CBC, bailout newspapers or other govt clients. https://t.co/wMDuRf17zQ
— Ezra Levant ??? (@ezralevant) February 2, 2020
After facing strong pushback, Guilbeault issued a confusing followup statement where he said “we will not ask news organizations to have any, to have license” but “media organizations would need to have a license.”
Such a bizarre damage control exercise by Trudeau’s minister of censorship. He confirms the worst. Listen to this to the end — they absolutely still plan to have government licenses for media. He says so: pic.twitter.com/riveVdrIEC
— Ezra Levant ??? (@ezralevant) February 3, 2020
Minister walks back deranged comments from yesterday. Says that the government doesn't plan to license news organizations… but might license certain media? https://t.co/ZZgMTC9htb
— Robyn Urback (@RobynUrback) February 3, 2020
Don't give Minister Guilbeault credit for walking back his comments about licensing media. All he said today is that he won't require licenses from "news organizations." He didn't rule out imposing a licensing regime for other media platforms.
— Andrew Lawton (@AndrewLawton) February 3, 2020
After these followup comments, many journalists were still concerned about the implications of “media organizations” having to obtain a license from a government body.