Postmedia is a company in trouble. It cannot sustain crippling debt to American debt holders with revenues from traditional advertising, circulation and digital paywalls. One of its responses is Postmedia Content Solutions, which aims to elicit cash in controversial ways. Part of their sales pitch:
We’ve learned that advertisers receive increased engagement when pairing their thought leadership with our trusted editorial content.
…You can provide us with content you’ve already created, or you can work with our dedicated Postmedia Works team to develop something brand new!
Writing at The Common Sense Canadian, Rafe Mair described – better than I might – how the “partnership” system works. Postmedia partners with LNG lobby to sell Woodfibre LNG – latest lapse in journalistic integrity.
On Saturday, the Vancouver Sun illustrated how its resource industry partners pair interests with the Sun’s “trusted” editorial content. A column was written by someone I mentioned here more than five years ago:
Columnist Don Cayo is one of the Vancouver Sun’s advocates for big business. In the nineties, he ran the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a corporate-funded charity operating as a think-tank based in Halifax. Along with umpteen sister “charities” such as the Fraser Institute, Fraser Institute Foundation, Frontier Centre for Public Policy Inc. and the Canadian Constitution Foundation, it campaigns steadily for elimination of public health and other services and reductions in government spending and lower taxes, at least for higher income folks…
Taxing smarter would mean B.C. could collect more revenue from its resources is an ironic title. No one the Vancouver Sun represents is interested in BC collecting more natural resource revenue. I couldn’t resist leaving a comment at the Sun’s website but I repeat it here because it may not survive long at the newspaper’s site.
Mr. Cayo states:
As well, “From 2009 to 2013, B.C. collected $2.3 billion from resource-right auctions and a further $2 billion from gross-revenue royalties.”
A more honest report would inform readers that, in current days, natural gas royalties are far different. It might also note that B.C. receives less in mining tax revenue than it allows in mining tax credits to businesses and individual investors.
According to B.C.’s First Quarter Report, “Cash sales of Crown land tenures” have generated only $9.2 million in the first 9 months of 2015 and are forecast to bring in a total of $44 million in three fiscal years, 2016 to 2018 (Page 45).
Natural gas royalties are forecast to be $220 million in the current fiscal year (Page 15) but unrecorded drilling and other credits owed producers (a total now over $1.4 billion) have grown by $478 million in the last two fiscal years. If more prudent accounting principles were used, the province’s gas royalty account would likely be in deficit.
By the way, Ministry of Natural Gas Development is forecast to spend $444 million in fiscal year 2016, up from $401 million in FY 2015 (Page 16).
Natural resource companies remove, sell and deplete public assets and they aim to pay the least possible share to resource owners. To further that goal, corporations invest millions of dollars in friendly politicians, public relations efforts, advertising, and “think tanks” that all try to convince citizens to moderate revenue expectations. In British Columbia, they’ve been successful.
In 2015, British Columbia received $570 per capita from natural resources. In 2001, the per capita revenue was $1,250 from natural resources, in 2015 dollars. Not surprisingly, the volume and value of materials now produced is significantly higher.
Keep in mind that when resource companies acquire equipment or when they rent executive offices in the downtown, the payments are not determined by revenue streams or profitability of the tenants. It is only taxpayers that are expected waive their right to a fair share of value.