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The deeper the Trudeau government gets into its self-manufactured goo over Bills C-11 and C-18 – the first an attempt to regulate the global internet, the other to bail out the Canadian newspaper industry again, this time via Facebook and Google – the more one is struck by, for all its shiny pretensions of progressive modernism, how deeply, devotedly old-fashioned this government is.

The internet may have turned everything upside-down in the world of media, erasing borders, distance, spectrum scarcity and marginal cost, but inside Liberal Ottawa it is forever 1968. The technological limitations that once made regulation of broadcasting necessary have long since disappeared, to the point that traditional broadcasting itself is increasingly giving way to online streaming. No longer confined to a home market dominated by bland foreign fare, Canadian music and video creators can reach a global audience at the touch of a digital button.

Yet rather than adapt the regulation of broadcasting to this new and exciting reality – and by adapt I mostly mean eliminate – the “modernizing” Trudeauite approach is to regulate the internet as if it were television in the 1960s. And by regulate the internet I mean regulate the internet – all of it, or very nearly so. Bill C-11 would apply to audio and video, large streaming services and small niche players, commercially created content and user-generated, domestic and foreign, the whole to be subject to the same round-the-clock, minute-by-minute, fanatically detailed supervision that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission – fairly screams “21st century,” doesn’t it? – has spent the past several decades applying to a handful of traditional broadcasters.

If you think this defines the outer limits of legislative insanity, you’re forgetting about C-18, the premise of which is that Facebook and Google, by posting links to stories on newspaper websites – links that send millions of readers our way every day, links that newspapers encourage their readers to post, links that newspapers take care to post themselves – are actually stealing from them, in a way that requires legislative correction.

Well, that’s just the stated premise. The actual premise is that Facebook and Google have a lot of money, and the newspapers, through every conceivable fault of their own, don’t. So the government will force the former to negotiate with the latter over how much the former will pay the latter for content the former aren’t actually using – beyond a handful of words, known as snippets – but rather have been advertising on the latter’s behalf. Until now they have been providing this service to us for free; now they will have to pay us to do so. As a bonus, the whole thing will be overseen and enforced by, you guessed it, the CRTC, which apparently isn’t nearly busy enough.

This has understandably perplexed the platforms, to the point that Facebook has lately suggested it might – well, do what the legislation plainly tells it to do. If providing links to newspaper content is, as the publishers insist, “stealing,” a kind of crime to be punished by a kind of tax, then Facebook promises to stop it at once: stop, that is, posting the links to Canadian news sites that the publishers are so eager to provide, when they are not demanding compensation for having done so. For this they are now accused of “threatening Canadians.”

What the platforms did take from us, of course, was our advertising revenue. Only they didn’t take it from us – they provided a better service, using superior technology, in a competitive market. To demand that they should compensate their vanquished rivals is akin to demanding Toyota bail out – I was going to say General Motors, but it’s more like forcing them to underwrite the horse-and-buggy industry.

Each bill, then, is an attempt to hold off the future in favour of the past. It isn’t the ambitious young Canadian video maker Bill C-11′s wholly needless “discoverability” algorithms will serve: It’s the creaky old Cancon establishment. In the same way, it isn’t the myriad of savvy new online publications that C-18 will benefit: It’s the dinosaurs in our business who never saw the internet asteroid coming, and who even after it struck spent several years stumbling around in the dark and demanding to be provided with a fresh planet.

In fact, the newspaper business may not even be the primary beneficiary of the bill. A study by the Parliamentary Budget Office finds that three-quarters of the ill-gotten gains will likely go to the CBC and other broadcasters, who are increasingly indistinguishable from publishers, given the volume of written material posted on their sites. That’s a good argument for withdrawing the subsidies that both the CBC and the private broadcasters have hitherto enjoyed. Instead, the government has opted to subsidize everybody: public or private, broadcaster or publisher, either directly out of public funds – the infamous $595-million “news media bailout” – or via the platforms. Just as long as they’re old, established and failing.

If all this sounds like a hopeless muddle that will hinder innovation, prop up mediocrity, set off the odd trade war and threaten free speech, stay tuned: In the offing is the “online harms” bill, already sent back for redrafting but promising, if the first pass at it was any guide, quite fantastic new state incursions on online expression.

Still, at least there is such a thing as online harm – a valid concern, even if the particular means of addressing it seems likely to be ill-chosen. Whereas with C-11 and C-18 it’s hard to see what the government’s point is, other than paying off Liberal client groups and making work for itself.

Which is worse? Don’t ask me to choose! It’s like choosing between my malignant, psychopathic, demonically possessed children!