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The company that owns the Toronto Star says it's pausing all advertising on Facebook and Instagram.Michael Dwyer/The Associated Press

The company that owns the Toronto Star is joining other Canadian media companies in pausing all advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

The immediate pause is in response to Meta’s plan to block access to content from Canadian news outlets on its platforms, Torstar Corp. said in a press release Thursday evening.

“We vigorously object to Meta’s unprecedented plans to block our content on its platforms in protest against the federal government’s Online News Act,” said Torstar CEO Neil Oliver in the press release.

“By its action, Meta will be deliberately closing one of the main ways that Canadians currently access news. Such access is critical for the long-term health of our democracy.”

It’s the latest such move by a media company in Canada as tech giants respond in protest to the Canadian government’s Online News Act, which seeks to make them pay news outlets for sharing their content.

Media companies Quebecor Inc. and Cogeco Inc. have both said they will suspend advertising on Meta’s platforms. The federal government, as well as the province of Quebec and the City of Montreal, said it plans to do the same.

On Wednesday the heritage minister called Facebook “unreasonable” and “irresponsible” as he announced the move by Ottawa.

“If the government and politicians don’t stand up against that kind of bullying or intimidation, who will?” said Pablo Rodriguez.

Google has also said it will remove news from Canadian outlets on its website. However, Rodriguez said Wednesday that the government is in talks with Google and believes its concerns will be managed by the coming regulations as the bill is implemented.

But a spokesperson for Meta has said the regulatory process won’t address its concerns, with the bill set to come into force in under six months.

“Unfortunately, the regulatory process is not equipped to make changes to the fundamental features of the legislation that have always been problematic, and so we plan to comply by ending news availability in Canada in the coming weeks,” the spokesperson said Wednesday in a statement.

Oliver encouraged other Canadian media outlets, advertisers and governments to “clear their opposition to Meta’s intention to cut Canadians off from essential information and trusted news.”

Unifor echoed that Thursday evening, calling on all provincial and municipal governments as well as corporations to stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

The union, which represents members of the media including those at the Toronto Star, said it’s halting its own advertising on all Meta-owned platforms.

“As Canada’s largest private sector union, we know all about hard bargaining. And what this situation calls for is leadership from all of us” said Unifor national president Lana Payne in the release.

“Unifor is calling on governments and major Facebook ad buyers to band together in support of Canadian journalism and give local news a fighting chance in this country.”

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