Court Ruling On Plastic Is A Win For Consumers And The Environment

Ottawa, ON – Yesterday, a federal court ruled that Ottawa overstepped in designating all “manufactured plastic items” as toxic under CEPA, which puts Ottawa’s single-use plastics ban in question.

David Clement, Toronto based North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), responded stating: “The court ruling is a huge win for consumers, and for the environment. The federal government using CEPA to regulate plastics, and following that up with a single-use ban, was the laziest route they could take in dealing with the issue of plastic waste.”

“Unravelling the single-use plastic ban would be a win for consumers because the alternatives are more expensive. According to Ottawa’s own analysis, paper bags are 2.6 times more expensive than plastic bags. Single-use cutlery made of wood is 2.25 times more expensive than plastic cutlery, while paper straw alternatives are three times more expensive,” said Clement.

“And the ban on these single-use items was also bad for the environment, because it pushed consumers to alternatives that are worse in terms of environmental impact. According to Denmark’s environment ministry, paper bags would each need to be re-used 43 times to bring their per-use impact on the environment down to the per-use impact of the single-use plastic bags. When the alternative option is a cotton bag, that number skyrockets to 7,100 uses. A consumer substituting a cotton bag for plastic would need 136 years of weekly grocery store trips to be as environmentally friendly as single-use plastic is,” said Clement

Previously, the Consumer Choice Center has voiced our concerns with Ottawa’s plastic ban in the Financial Post, Le Journal de Montreal, and the Toronto Sun

Une victoire pour les consommateurs après la défaite de l’interdiction du plastique de Trudeau

POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE | 17 novembre, 2023

OTTAWA, ON. – Ce jeudi, la Cour fédérale a rendu sa décision qui mettra fin au plan du gouvernement Trudeau d’interdire des articles en plastique à usage unique à la fin de 2023.

La Cour est concise sur le fait que le plan était à la fois excessif et manquait de mérite « le décret et l’inscription correspondante des articles manufacturés en plastique sur la liste des substances toxiques de l’annexe 1 sont à la fois déraisonnables et inconstitutionnels, » conclut-elle.

Yaël Ossowski, directeur adjoint de l’Agence pour le choix du consommateur, réagit :

« Les consommateurs devraient être ravis que ce plan de Trudeau touche à sa fin. L’interdiction du plastique n’était qu’une tentative musclée visant à priver les consommateurs et les entreprises d’un bien essentiel à la vie quotidienne.

« Comme nous l’avons décrit dans notre tribune dans Le Journal de Montréal en janvier 2021, ce plan a compliqué les efforts légitimes des entrepreneurs de créer des alternatives à la fois à l’innovation et au recyclage du plastique, » dit Ossowski.

« C’est grâce au génie québécois que nous puissions nous débarrasser de plastique de façon responsable, et non grâce à une prohibition du gouvernement fédéral. Au lieu de laisser les provinces gérer leurs approches et les innovateurs trouver des solutions efficaces, le gouvernement fédéral a choisi la voie paresseuse de l’interdiction pure et simple de certains produits. Cela nuit à tout le monde, et particulièrement à nous tous, consommateur.

« Nous applaudissons la décision de la Cour fédérale, »  conclut Ossowski.


Yaël Ossowski, directeur adjoint

L’Agence pour le choix du consommateur

L’Agence pour le choix du consommateur représente des consommateurs dans plus de 100 pays à travers le monde. Nous surveillons de près les tendances réglementaires à Ottawa, Washington, Bruxelles, Genève, Lima, Brasilia et dans d’autres points chauds de réglementation et informons et activons les consommateurs pour qu’ils se battent pour le #ChoixduConsommateur. Apprenez-en davantage sur consumerchoicecenter.org.

Australia’s own media law isn’t helping news consumers either

In a news conference in Ottawa earlier this month, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez sought to provide context for the tech industry’s reaction to the recently passed C-18, which outlines a process for media organizations to arrange deals with tech companies for ad revenue.

Since the bill was enacted, both Meta and Google have taken steps to remove Canadian news articles from their platforms, claiming that the bill is “unworkable” for their products. While Google has demonstrated a willingness to sit down with the government, Meta has thus far refused. In response, the Canadian federal government, without the support of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, has said it will remove all ads on both platforms.

Minister Rodriguez called the tech platforms “bullies” for removing news links and accused them of “threatening democracy” itself. Citing Meta and Google’s profits, NDP MP Peter Julian said it was “time for them to give back” by turning over some of their money to local and regional newspapers, and online publishers.

Bloc MP Martin Champoux suggested using yet more tax money to push advertisers to spend on traditional platforms. “The government should do more. Perhaps even more incentives to advertisers to leave Meta’s platform and return to traditional sponsorships,” he said.

In a separate interview, Prime Minister Trudeau kicked it up a notch by claiming that Facebook’s actions were an “attack” on Canada akin to WWII.

Since then, the government has already outlined its own concessions to soften the blow, but the point remains.

There are plenty of articulate critiques of C-18, but the most concerning part of this entire process is that the template they’re drawing from is also massively flawed.

In name, the law is about saving journalism. Practically, it grants permission to a cartel of news organizations and corporations to force extractive payments from (mostly US) tech firms that have significant online platforms. And large media companies stand to gain the most.

This regulatory playbook is a familiar one in the Anglosphere, as we know from Australia’s News Bargaining Code of 2021 and similar attempts in the US Senate and the State of California.

The Australian example is a key talking point for Rodriguez and Liberal supporters of C-18, but its success is rather opaque.

If anyone asks the Australian government or peeks at their reports compiled by the Treasury, they claim it a “success to date,” owing to the 30 individual agreements struck between news publishers and the tech titans of Google and Meta.

But the number of agreements is the only metric we have, and it’s not surprising to see large mega corporations topping the list, including US entertainment conglomerates like Paramount Global and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, but also Nine Entertainment, owned by the family of now-deceased Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer (a mini-Murdoch, if you will).

What about small, regional outlets that bills like the Australian News Bargaining Code and Canada’s C-18 portend to help?

At least two academic articles have examined this impact, and both concluded that large corporate media entities gained significantly while smaller newsrooms were unable to capture gains at the same rate. “It is yet to be seen how the NMBC contributes to maintaining a sustainable business model for public interest journalism, other than continued payments from platforms,” said one group of researchers.

The Australian Treasury report notes, “it is acknowledged that many smaller news businesses would face significant challenges in participating in negotiations with digital platforms.”

Chris Krewson, executive director of LION Publishers, an association of US local news publishers analyzing the law, sums it up more bluntly: 

He wrote that there’s “no evidence that the dollars that flowed actually meant more journalism,” later pointing out that despite the $200 million infusion of cash from Big Tech, Australian media outlets still struggled immensely during the pandemic, and local outlets especially found the task of even entering negotiations to be a “lengthy and expensive process”.

For those smaller publishers and media outlets struggling and unable to strike their own deals, the Australian government signals it may need to extract yet more money for future subsidies: “Ultimately, as noted earlier, small news businesses may be better assisted by other types of Government support.”

In that case, it seems Australia will need to dole out yet more subsidies, tax schemes, and government financing to support the journalism industry. Why should Canada be any different?

What C-18 and similar laws attempt to do is to organize, coordinate, and force a business model for a particular industry. But in doing so, it is giving an upper hand to large media conglomerates with a decaying business model that will now forever grow addicted to deals with tech firms.

One could even argue that Canada’s government is harming the open internet itself by forcing online firms to pay traditional media. This, all the while platforms like Substack, YouTube, Patreon, and many others are better serving news consumers who are directly paying media outlets they enjoy and benefit from.

In slowing the inevitability of bankrupt legacy media firms, the government cannot endorse bankrupt ideas to save them.

Yaël Ossowski is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center.

Canada’s news cartel and social media link tax breaks an open internet and harms digital journalism

This week, I was invited on The News Forum’s “Daily,” a Canadian daily news show, to discuss the impact of C-18, which allows a media cartel to force social networks to pay a “link tax” for allowing articles on their platforms.

At the Consumer Choice Center, my colleague David Clement has previously written about this here and here, and it’s been a point of interest on Consumer Choice Radio for some time.

This is something that Australia already introduced in 2021, which I wrote about, and the US is currently discussing a similar proposal in the U.S. Senate, which my colleague Bill Wirtz also recently covered, as well as our fellow Dr. Kimberlee Josephson.

In the U.S., the bill is the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, spearheaded by competition foe Amy Klobuchar. A version in California, the California Journalism Preservation Act, is in committee in the State Senate, and it’s expected that Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign it.

The principal idea of this plan — no matter the country or language — is that tech companies are eating traditional media’s lunch. To “level the playing field,” tech firms must pay traditional media each time a story (or link) is shared on their platform. It looks like it’s Rupert Murdoch vs. Mark Zuckerberg, or pick your legally media titan vs. tech start-up CEO. But realistically, it’s government officials, working with legacy media outlets, versus YOU, the consumer.

This is, of course, not just an attack on free speech and bad public policy, but it also represents a fundamental shift in how we view the democratic nature of the Internet.

News outlets need social media to share stories, find their audiences, and to continue to support them. At the same time, it’s up to news outlets to come up with innovative models to thrive and compete. In Canada, like in many European countries, government subsidies have taken the place of real innovation.

But across the internet, platforms such as Substack, Patreon, Locals.com, YouTube, and now even Twitter are allowing individuals and media teams to offer up news products that consumers genuinely enjoy.

At the Consumer Choice Center, we advocate for consumers who embrace innovation, competition, and a wide variety of choice. New models of creative destruction are something we celebrate, and we as consumers benefit every step of the way.

We will continue to push back against the idea of news cartels, link taxes, or other unfair regulatory practices that seek to prop up one industry at the expense of another. Not only is it wrong, a waste of funds, and impractical, but it also seriously diminishes our ability to freely choose our chosen media as consumers.

That’s at least one thing worth fighting for.

Ottawa’s Concerning Escalation Against Big Tech Threatens Citizen Engagement

Ottawa, ON – This week Canada’s Heritage Committee moved forward a Liberal motion that will require tech companies like Alphabet (Google) and Meta (Facebook) to hand over their internal and external correspondence in regards to Ottawa’s Bill C-18, which would require these companies for pay publishers when news links are posted on their platform.

In response, the Consumer Choice Center’s Toronto based North American Affairs Manager David Clement stated: “C-18 is a big mistake on the part of Ottawa. Not only does the bill have the relationship between tech platforms and publishers backwards, sharing links on social media generates free ad revenue for publishers through page visits, the Bill now threatens Canadian’s access to news. To make matters worse, Ottawa’s demands for all internal and external correspondence sets a chilling precedent for any NGO, union, trade association or charity that opposes a piece of legislation.

“If Ottawa proceeds in demanding internal and external email correspondence from these companies, it would be a significant step backwards for citizen engagement, which is a key part of Canadian democracy. If this precedent is set, a future government could simply deem any non-governmental opposition to a bill as “subversive” and require the disclosure of private emails. If a major trade union opposed a piece of labour reform, a future government could shake the union down by forcing the union to hand over their internal emails with members, their external emails with legal counsel, their emails with members of the public, and even their correspondence with journalists,” states Clement.

“It would appear as though the Liberal party is failing to anticipate the precedents they are setting today can and will be used by their political opponents tomorrow. A future Conservative government could in theory use this precedent to squash opposition from patient advocacy groups, environmental NGOs, or labour unions. A future NDP government could use this precedent to stifle dissent from business associations, taxpayer advocacy groups, and those who represent the voices of small businesses. This is a clear case of incredible government overreach, one that could fundamentally shift the nature of political engagement in Canada for the worse,” concluded Clement.

***CCC North American Affairs Manager David Clement is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries to david@consumerchoicecenter.org.***

What NZ can learn from Canada’s cannabis experiment

New Zealand and Canada, despite being 13,000 kilometres apart, have a lot in common. Both countries are small in terms of population, punch above their weight economically, and are politically compassionate.

If New Zealand votes to legalise cannabis in 2020, that will be one more similarity that these two Commonwealth countries will share.

The draft policy positions for New Zealand’s cannabis referendum have been released, and for the most part, they mirror what Canada has done for recreational cannabis legalisation.

As a Canadian, I can tell you that legalising cannabis is the right thing to do. I can also say that New Zealand should avoid the regulatory approach that Canada took.

There are several mistakes that Canada made which New Zealand should steer clear of replicating.

The first major one is the failure to differentiate between THC products and non-intoxicating CBD products.

The draft policy positions state that any product produced from the cannabis plant is to be considered a cannabis product. This puts CBD products that are not intoxicating on par with THC products that are.

If New Zealand is to succeed where Canada has failed in legalising cannabis, it needs to create a more consumer-friendly regulatory regime, says Clement.

Following what Canada has done fails to regulate based on a continuum of risk, and runs against the New Zealand Government’s goal of harm reduction.

If the Government cares about minimising harm, it shouldn’t regulate non-intoxicating low-risk products the same way as intoxicating psychoactive ones. Harm reduction should mean making the least harmful products more available, not less available.

The second major mistake in the draft policy positions is the ban on all cannabis advertising. This proposal takes Canada’s very paternalistic advertising laws and exceeds them.

Complete marketing and advertising bans for legal cannabis products are misguided for two reasons. The first is that they are wildly inconsistent with how New Zealand treats other age-restricted goods, such as alcohol. Alcohol has a much higher risk profile when compared to cannabis, but does not have such strict advertising rules.

The second reason is that a complete ban fails to properly understand the role marketing has in moving consumers over from the black market. Modest forms of marketing allow for the legal market to attract existing consumers, who are buying cannabis illegally, into the legal framework.

Legal cannabis accounts for only about 20 per cent of all cannabis consumed in Canada, and that is in large part because the legal industry is handcuffed by regulations that stop them attracting consumers from the black market.

For purchases, and a personal carry limit, the proposed policy is that no New Zealander be allowed to purchase more than 14g of cannabis a day, and that no-one should exceed carrying more than 14g on their person in public. This is extreme when compared to Canada’s 30g limit, and inconsistent when compared to alcohol, which has no purchase or personal limit. It is reasonable to assume that the people criminalised by this arbitrary limit will be the same who were most harmed by prohibition: the marginalised.

Lastly are the policies on potency and taxation. The Government wants to establish a THC potency limit for cannabis products, which is understandable.

That said, whatever the limit is, the Government should avoid setting it too low. If the limit is excessively low, consumers are likely to smoke more to get their desired THC amount. That runs directly against the Government’s harm reduction approach. Secondly, if the limit is too low, it creates a clear signal for black-market actors that there is a niche to fill.

It is important to keep taxation modest, so that pricing can be competitive between the legal and illegal markets. Canada’s onerous excise, sales, and regional taxes can increase the price of legal cannabis by upwards of 29 per cent.

Poor tax policy in Canada is in large part why legal cannabis can be more than 50 per cent more expensive than black-market alternatives. Incentivising consumers to stay in the black market hurts consumer safety, and cuts the Government out of tax revenue entirely.

New Zealand is on the right path regarding cannabis legalisation, but it is important that regulators learn lessons from Canada’s process. For the sake of harm reduction, and stamping out the black market, it is vital that New Zealand has a consumer-friendly regulatory regime, one that specifically avoids, and not replicates, the mistakes made in Canada.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 

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