Unfortunately, many of my constituents are contending with wildfires. At minimum, this means contending with deteriorating air quality, or worse the threat of evacuation or evacuation itself.
These factors only compound their ongoing concerns around affordability, paying bills and outstanding debt. These are serious concerns and my thoughts are with the first responders who continue to work under sweltering and demanding conditions.
As I am in the last weeks of my summer listening tour, I have been made aware, in my travels throughout our riding, that an increasing number of residents are struggling to make ends meet each month and are living in fear of news of further Bank of Canada interest rate hikes.
Meanwhile, the Liberal government in Ottawa continues its never-ending spending pattern and enacts policies that seem at odds with what Canadians are asking for.
Some of you may have witnessed the impacts of Facebook, Instagram and other social media organizations refusing to carry local Canadian-based news links because of the government's arrogant insistence on ramming through Bill C-18, despite warnings this exact situation would occur.
In our region, we have many local and community-based online news providers - that employ experienced journalists - that can no longer reach as many local residents through social media as they once could. This not only hits their bottom line and forces these publishers to respond to decreasing traffic and the subsequent advertising revenue shortfall, it exposes some risk to those contending with wildfires or other public safety emergencies.
During potential evacuation orders, it is crucial to keep the public informed. However, Bill C-18 creates a barrier to increasing public safety.
When a similar law was passed in Australia, there were issues with communication on wildfires and other emergencies because the Australian public could no longer access local news stories on social media. While large platforms have said they will ensure the public can still access government content through official websites and social media pages, in my experience, many constituents do not follow these sites and instead rely heavily on local media.
Therefore, the timing of this legislation could not be worse for all involved.
The government was warned about all these inevitable impacts of Bill C-18, but it refused to listen. Criticism of this bill for its harmful impacts on local news organizations does not mean anyone is standing with tech giants. Democratically elected officials have an obligation to hold governments accountable when government actions adversely impact the (people) we represent.
Pointing out serious flaws in government legislation means governments should listen to those people, groups and organizations adversely impacted and find ways to change and improve the legislation.
Instead of doing that, the government would rather demonize and belittle those who dare criticize this bill. From my perspective, this is divisive and unhelpful. People deserve to be heard, not demonized.
My question to you this week:
Do you feel the Liberal government is hearing your voice? Why or why not?
Please reach out to me at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.