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Trudeau pokes Meta for its news ban as wildfire season looms in B.C.

PM calls dispute with social media giant a ‘test moment’ during fire hall stop in West Kelowna
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks about the upcoming wildfire season at the West Kelowna Fire Rescue hall in West Kelowna, B.C., on Friday, May 10, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Hemens

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada’s dispute with Meta is a “test moment” for the country to stand against the social media giant that’s making billions off people, but taking no responsibility for the well-being of communities they profit from.

Trudeau made his comments in West Kelowna, one of several B.C. communities involved in evacuations of thousands of people last summer, while information about wildfires and escape routes were blocked on Meta’s Facebook platform.

Meta has blocked Canadian news from Facebook over the federal government’s Online News Act, that seeks compensation for news outlets whose stories are used on Facebook feeds.

Trudeau says he knows there are many people trying to figure out ways to keep everyone informed, especially in emergency situations, but countries need to stand up for journalism, not bow down to companies that make billions while they degrade democracy.

The prime minister says he met with mayors and fires chiefs today where wildfires swept through last year, along with a number of families who lost homes in the B.C. Interior and are still impacted by the situation.

He was in West Kelowna last August, just days after a wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes.

READ ALSO: ‘It is likely to be a bad forest fire season’: Prime Minister visits West Kelowna