Bill C-18: Major Quebec cities and companies suspend advertising on Facebook, Instagram

Hours after the federal government announced that it is suspending advertising on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, the province of Quebec, City of Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, Longueuil and Gatineau followed suit.

The decision to suspend advertising signaled the government’s intention to stand its ground in the ongoing Bill C-18 dissent against Google and Meta.

The bill, which received Royal Assent two weeks ago after a year of extensive consultation and public controversy, would force the tech giants to pay news publishers for linking to their content.

Subsequently, both Meta and Google decided to end news availability in Canada, leaving the future of the legislation up in the air.

But Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is more vexed with Meta’s approach, which he qualified as “unreasonable and irresponsible” in a press conference yesterday. Google, on the other hand, he confirmed, continues to have discussions with the government.

Suspending advertising on Facebook and Instagram, he said, sends a message that the platforms should comply with Canadian law.

Shortly after, Quebec Premier Francois Legault expressed his support, and announced that the province of Quebec will suspend advertising on Meta’s platforms;  “No company is above the law,” he tweeted.

The mayors of Montreal, Laval, Longueuil, Quebec City and Gatineau also jumped on the bandwagon, “in solidarity with news organizations.”

Yesterday, media companies Cogeco and Quebecor also pulled advertising from Meta’s platforms.

“The challenge of continuing to provide quality journalism is immense for news and media companies, ” said Cogeco in a release. “The continued weakening of Canadian news outlets to the benefit of foreign search and social media giants will only exacerbate the challenges related to misinformation.”

The company also called on the government to reinvest the $10 million it spends yearly on Facebook advertising into Canadian media.

Cogeco’s subsidiary, Cogeco Media, owns and operates twenty-one talk and music radio stations across the province of Quebec.

Quebecor, the first to withdraw advertising from Facebook and Instagram, said in a release, yesterday morning, “This high-handed decision is an abuse of Meta’s dominant position, particularly in the Canadian online advertising market, and violates the basic tenets of any society that believes in the importance of reliable, trustworthy news coverage for a healthy democracy.”

In a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau likened the Bill C-18 standoff to defending democracy in Ukraine or during the Second World War. 

“Facebook decided that Canada was a small country, small enough that they could reject our asks. They made the wrong choice by deciding to attack Canada. We want to defend democracy. This is what we’re doing across the world, such as supporting Ukraine. This is what we did during the Second World War. This is what we’re doing every single day in the United Nations.”

Despite the federal government’s decision to suspend advertising on Facebook and Instagram, Liberal Party officials continue to run political advertising on the platforms.

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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