Google Canada commissioned Abacus Data to design and execute a national public opinion survey exploring perceptions and views about Bill C-18, the Online News Act and to gauge public reaction to Google’s concerns about the Bill.
The survey was conducted with 2,207 Canadian adults from August 19 to 26, 2022.
In designing this study, we were guided by three core questions:
1. To what extent has the Canadian public been following news or information about Bill C-18 and are familiar with it?
2. If awareness of Bill C-18 is limited, what values and outcomes are important to Canadians when it comes to regulating the internet and online news?
3. How do Canadians react to the specific concerns Google has raised about Bill C-18 and would they want Parliament to amend the legislation in response?
A SUMMARY OF WHAT WE LEARNED
1. The public is not following news or information about Bill C-18 closely and their perceptions about the state of the news and journalism sector in Canada are quite different from those who advocate for Bill C-18. But a lack of attention is not the same as indifference.
2. Canadians want balance when it comes to the impacts of Bill C-18. They want to see local news protected but they also don’t want search engines they rely on to work or perform differently than they do now.
For example, large majorities believe it is important that the legislation ensures eligible news outlets follow journalistic standards and ethics, that local news is protected and given the resources to continue to operate but they also want search engines like Google Search to continue to work and perform the way they do now. Most also don’t want to see misinformation treated as news.
3. When exposed to Google’s concerns about Bill C-18 later in the survey, a clear majority share those concerns and want Parliament to amend the bill to address them.
Familiarity with Bill C-18, the Online News Act
When it comes to Bill C-18 specifically, 2 in 3 Canadians say they have heard about the bill but only 33% say they are either very or somewhat familiar with it. In fact, only 8% of Canadians report being very familiar with Bill C-18.
Familiarity with Bill C-18 is somewhat higher among younger Canadians (those under 45) and among men, but we find little variation in familiarity across different regions of the country.
What Matters to Canadians
Canadians were asked how important several outcomes are to them personally when it comes to Bill C-18, the Online News Act. Most Canadians felt all the outcomes shared were at least pretty important but more Canadians felt it is important that Bill C-18:
– Ensures eligible news outlets follow journalistic standards and ethics (75%).
– Local news is protected and given the resources to continue to operate (75%).
– Search engines like Google Search continue to work and perform the way they do now (73%).
– Not treat misinformation as news (70%).
The desire for a balanced approach that both supports local news, protects the integrity of Google Search, and does not amplify misinformation is shared by a wide majority of Canadians across the political spectrum.
Google, News, and Canadian Opinion
As context, it’s important to note that according to our survey, 72% of Canadian adults report using Google Search at least once a day with 44% saying they use Google Search “multiple times a day” in the survey. Google is also an important source to find and access news. 64% say they use Google to find and access news at least a few times a week with 41% using it daily.
At the same time, less than 1 in 4 Canadians believe that the Canadian news industry is financially weak and unsustainable. In fact, a majority (55%) describe it as either “financially strong and sustainable” or “financially ok and mostly sustainable”.
Canadians were also asked their views on several aspects of Bill C-18, especially around compensating news organizations for content that appears on social media platforms or in search results. Here’s what we found:
Only 21% of Canadians believe that a social media platform should be required to pay the news organization a fee when someone shares an article on a Canadian news website on their social media account.
Only 30% of Canadians believe that Google should have to pay a fee to news organizations if someone clicked on a link to a news website that showed up in a search result.
And 79% of Canadians said they would definitely not (58%) or probably not (21%) pay a small fee to access a news article that appeared in a Google search result.
These results underscore the disconnect between the intent of Bill C-18 and the preferences of Canadians. Most people would not pay for access to the content and few think platforms should have to pay either.
Reactions to Google’s Concerns about Bill C-18
In the final section of the survey, Canadians were shown concerns raised by Google about Bill C-18 and asked to what extent those concerns worry them about C-18.
– 70% are worried when they find out that “the bill gives the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) unprecedented, sweeping new powers to regulate every aspect of the Canadian news industry even though these decisions are far outside of its expertise as a broadcast regulator.”
– 69% are worried when they find out “the proposed law uses an extremely broad definition for “eligible news businesses” and doesn’t require eligible news organizations to follow basic journalistic standards.”
– 69% are worried when they find out Online News Act would require companies like Google to pay news businesses simply so that they can help you find what you’re looking for. This is what’s known as a “link tax” and it fundamentally breaks the way search (and the internet) have always worked. Requiring payment for links risks limiting Canadians’ access to the information they depend on.
– 65% are worried when they find out “a section of the bill prohibits companies like Google from using ranking, or showing you the content most relevant to your search, first. It also could allow blogs, foreign state-owned media, or any other “eligible news business” to inflate their ranking in your search results, preventing Google from presenting you with the most reliable and useful content, making Search (and the internet) less useful and less safe.”
– 65% are worried when they find out “the Online News Act would effectively subsidize any outlet that “explains current issues or events of public interest”. This means that any opinion or commentary blog with two or more people could be eligible to receive funds.”
– 60% are worried when they find out “Foreign, state-owned outlets could be eligible, even if they are known sources of misinformation and propaganda, under the Act.”
More striking, is that these concerns are shared by people from across the political spectrum and among those who said earlier in the survey that they are familiar with the legislation.
Should Parliament Amend C-18?
After being informed of Google’s concerns with Bill C-18, Canadians were asked whether the federal government and Parliament should work to amend the legislation to address these concerns or whether Google’s concerns are not that serious, and the legislation should pass as is.
59% felt the bill should be amended while only 15% felt it should be passed as it is. Another 27% were unsure.
A majority of Liberal (62%), Conservative (63%), NDP (63%) and BQ (54%) supporters felt the bill should be amended. In contrast, 21% of Liberal supporters, 15% of Conservatives, 11% of NDP supporters, and 18% of BQ supporters felt the law should pass as it is.
Moreover, when Canadians are asked who they tend to believe more when it comes to the impacts of Bill C-18 on the user experience using Google Search and other Google products, 36% say they trust Google more, 24% say they trust the federal government more, while 40% say they are unsure who to trust more.
Even among Liberal supporters, 34% said they trust Google more while 33% sided with the federal government.
IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSION
An objective of this study was to understand what would happen if more Canadians became aware and familiar with Bill C-18, the Online News Act and became aware of Google’s concerns with the Bill.
The results clearly indicate that while few Canadians are paying close attention to what is happening with the Online News Act, the issues with Bill C-18 raised by Google resonate with Canadians and cause them to want legislators to amend the bill to address concerns they have with it – including Liberal supporters and those most familiar with the legislation.
Most Canadians use Google Search daily. It is an essential part of their life. They depend on Google to solve their problems, find information, and access news. But there is little appetite to pay to access that content – whether personally or by the platforms.
If Bill C-18 fundamentally changes the user experience, if it helps to spread misinformation or supports organizations that don’t follow core journalistic standards, Canadians will be dissatisfied and support for the legislation will quickly fall.
Canadians want policymakers and technology companies to work together to ensure that local news is strong but not at the expense of the user experience.
The survey was conducted with 2,207 Canadian adults from August 19 to 26, 2022. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.
The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.1% 19 times out of 20.
The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
This survey was paid for by Google Canada.
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Canada’s military forces are “ready” to meet their commitments should Russia’s war in Ukraine spread to NATO countries, but it would be a “challenge” to launch a larger scale operation in the long term, with ongoing personnel and equipment shortages, according to Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre.
Eyre told Joyce Napier on CTV’s Question Period in an interview airing Sunday that while the forces in Europe are “ready for the tactical mission they’ve been assigned,” he has larger concerns about strategic readiness. He said there’s a lack of people and equipment, and further concern around the ability to sustain a larger scale mission in the longer term.
The Canadian Armed Forces are still struggling to retain staff, with nearly 10,000 fewer trained personnel than they’d need to be at full force, and equipment stocks below what they require.
“We’ve got challenges in all of those,” Eyre said, adding the numbers reflect what’s been “let slip over decades, as we’ve focused on the more immediate (needs).”
Eyre said Canada’s military would be “hard pressed” to launch another large-scale operation like it had in Afghanistan, as an example, without having to redistribute its resources around the globe, as threats evolve.
“The military that we have now is going to be increasingly called upon to support Canada and to support Canadian interests, to support our allies overseas, but as well at home,” Eyre said, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, climate change impacting the landscape in the Arctic, and an increase in digital and cybersecurity threats.
“It’s always a case of prioritization and balancing our deployments around the globe, not just with what, but when, and with who … and getting that balance right is something that that we’re working on,” he said. “Could we use more? Yeah, absolutely. But we operate with what we have.”
“We prioritize and balance based on what our allies need, and what the demand signals, just to make sure that we achieve the strategic effect the government wants us to achieve,” he also said.
Meanwhile Defence Minister Anita Anand said on CTV’s Question Period last week that Canada should “be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” and balance its NATO commitments with securing the Arctic and promoting peace in the Indo-Pacific.
Eyre said his number one priority is getting Canada’s armed forces up to full strength, with an attrition rate of 9.3 per cent between both regular and reserve forces, up from 6.9 per cent last year. The Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy was released just last month.
“We are facing the same challenge that every other industry out there is facing in terms of a really tight labor market,” Eyre said. “Every other military in the West is facing the same challenge.”
He explained the organization is working on streamlining its recruitment process, among other changes, to meet the increasing need, with the goal to get numbers up “as quickly as possible.”
“Ideally, would have been yesterday,” he said. “We’re looking at where we can accelerate the recruiting, the training, and optimizing our training pipeline.”
Soccer wasn’t really a thing when I was a kid. I grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s. Sure, we all had soccer balls. And we played a lot of what should be more accurately called, Kick and Run. But I – and all my friends – did not really know the rules, the teams or the players. We might’ve heard of Pelé, but not more than that.
We followed hockey, baseball, football (CFL and NFL) and basketball, in that order. I did occasionally watch soccer on TV, but that was because we didn’t have a lot of channels and the soothing English accents often lulled me to sleep.
Things are much different now. My 13-year-old son is a massive soccer fan. He plays on a team three or four times a week. His schoolmates include a lot of second-generation Canadians, whose parents came from soccer-obsessed nations. He watches Premier League and Championship League matches. He’s watches La Liga and Bundesliga. He watches World Cup qualifiers and could tell me the backstory on most of the players. In fact, he watches classic games on YouTube and plays FIFA22 on his PS4 and as a result, knows more about Pelé than I ever did. But, because of him, I now watch enough football to know a game is a match, a goalie is a keeper and I know which plays end up in corner kicks or throw-ins.
I once asked him, “How well do you know the Germany national team?” and he said, “Not very well.” He then proceeded to name seven of their 11 starters. It’s a different world.
I still know almost nothing compared to the other soccer dads, but like millions of Canadians, I watched Canada’s qualifying matches and I know we have a great team, with some stellar players who are worth watching. The qualifying matches regularly beat both hockey games and CFL football when it comes to viewership.
But we should care about more than just the matches themselves. The World Cup is one of the biggest and most lucrative sports spectacles on Earth. This will be the first one hosted in the Middle East. And although Qatar may look shiny and new on TV, it’s mired in what many Western nations believe to be medieval and backwards policies on working conditions, LGBTQ2S+ and women’s rights.
Finding people to talk about it in Qatar is NOT easy. One of W5’s goals this week was to talk to migrant workers to describe how they were treated, their living conditions and their labour rights. Most were too afraid to talk to us.
And to confound things, there have been many stories of journalists being detained or arrested for reporting on migrant workers. Last week, a Danish reporter was live on TV from Qatar and when asked what things were like there, he directed his camera operator to pan left – revealing security officials in golf carts, who immediately tried to stop the live hit. The next day Qatari officials apologized, but the message was clear: we can stop you from reporting when we want. It’s a fascinating video that’s been viewed millions of times around the globe.
The Qatari government denies they’ve put any restrictions on media. In a tweet, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy says “several regional and international media outlets are based in Qatar, and thousands of journalists report from Qatar freely without interference each year.”
Not everyone is convinced. Qatar ranks 118 out of 180 countries in the 2022 Press Freedom index, published by Reporters Without Borders. Freedom House, which is a U.S.-based freedom watchdog, gives Qatar a 25 out of 100 score on Global Freedom, which includes freedom of expression. (Canada ranks 98 and the US ranks 83).
A Reuters Institute column from last week on press freedom in Qatar suggests authorities obscure press freedom laws, by hiding behind trespassing laws.
“One of the most common risks when doing journalistic work in Qatar is to be accused of trespassing. This is what Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani of Norwegian state broadcaster NRK were accused of when they were arrested by officers of Qatar’s Criminal Investigations Department in November 2021, while covering World Cup preparations. The journalists were held for over 30 hours before being released without charge. They deny they were filming without permission,” says the article.
A little insider info: I have personally written, “we don’t want you to get arrested, but…” at least twice in correspondence with our team in Qatar. I’ve never encouraged anyone to break the law of course, but sometimes doing our jobs leads police or security into thinking they have a duty (or at least a right) to stop you.
Where do we get our story ideas? You. Emails, DMs, letters and tweets get to us and we read them all. Share your story with us and you can help us make a difference at W5@bellmedia.ca.
OTTAWA — Haven’t you herd? A dramatic tale of 20 escaped cows, nine cowboys and a drone recently unfolded in St-Sévère, Que., and it behooved a Canadian senator to milk it for all it was worth.
Prompting priceless reactions of surprise from her colleagues, Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne recounted the story of the bovine fugitives in the Senate chamber this week — and attempted to make a moo-ving point about politics.
“Honourable senators, usually, when we do tributes here, it is to recognize the achievements of our fellow citizens,” Miville-Dechêne began in French, having chosen to wear a white blouse with black spots for the occasion.
“However, today, I want to express my amused admiration for a remarkably determined herd of cows.”
On a day when senators paid tribute to a late Alberta pastor, the crash of a luxury steamer off the coast of Newfoundland in 1918 and environmental negotiators at the recent climate talks in Egypt, senators seated near Miville-Dechêne seemed udderly taken aback by the lighter fare — but there are no reports that they had beef with what she was saying.
Miville-Dechêne’s storytelling touched on the highlights of the cows’ evasion of authorities after a summer jailbreak — from their wont to jump fences like deer to a local official’s entreaty that she would not go running after cattle in a dress and high heels.
The climax of her narrative came as nine cowboys — eight on horseback, one with a drone — arrived from the western festival in nearby St-Tite, Que., north of Trois-Rivières, and nearly nabbed the vagabonds before they fled through a cornfield.
“They are still on the run, hiding in the woods by day and grazing by night,” said Miville-Dechêne, with a note of pride and perhaps a hint of fromage.
She neglected to mention the reported costs of the twilight vandalism, which locals say has cost at least $20,000.
But Miville-Dechêne did save some of her praise for the humans in the story, congratulating the municipal general manager, Marie-Andrée Cadorette, for her “dogged determination,” and commending the would-be wranglers for stepping up when every government department and police force in Quebec said there was nothing they could do.
“There is a political lesson in there somewhere,” said the former journalist.
Miville-Dechêne ended on what could perhaps be interpreted as a butchered metaphor about non-partisanship: “Finally, I would like to confess my unbridled admiration for these cows that have found freedom and are still out there, frolicking about. While we overcomplicate things, these cows are learning to jump fences.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2022.
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