Newspapers of Canada—including Postmedia, the right-wing chain that volunteered to be ravished by U.S. hedge fund billionaires—will be collecting about $600 million from taxpayers under the federal support program announced in 2019.
Additionally, newspapers will take in millions from Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Postmedia reports it will receive about $7 million a month from CEWS.
Jesse Brown of Canadaland detailed how the Toronto newspaper owned by the Thomsons, Canada’s wealthiest family, was doing unregistered lobbying for cash from the $2 billion federal Strategic Innovation Fund.
Another multi-million dollar program put in place years ago to aid publishers is the Canada Periodical Fund. It is to help publishers “overcome market disadvantages and continue to provide Canadian readers with the content they choose to read.”
Those programs are not the only ones that put cash in publishers’ accounts.
Canadaland reports these publishers had signed news contracts worth millions of dollars in total each year:
- Postmedia Network Inc.
- CEDROM-SNi Inc.
- Média QMI Inc.
- The Globe and Mail Inc.
- Canadian Press Enterprises Inc.
- iPolitics Ltd.
- Observer Media Group Inc.
- Rogers Media
- Hill Times Publishing
Most of Canada’s larger newspapers have regularly opposed expansion of social services delivered to individual citizens, like national dental and pharmaceutical programs. Too expensive, they say.
They have also supported privatization of public enterprises so companies, like BC Rail, CNR and Air Canada, would not burden taxpayers with losses.
And Canada’s newspapers regularly offer platforms to the Fraser Institute to promote market based private enterprise and reduced government spending. One associate, Mark Milke, is ubiquitous. He is described on the political action charity’s website:
Mr. Milke’s opinion columns appear regularly in the Calgary Herald and Globe and Mail, as well as in the National Post, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, and Victoria Times Colonist.
Milke authored a Fraser Institute paper complaining about subsidies that reward special interests, encourage inefficiency and distort the marketplace. He recommended:
- Wind down and end business assistance programs…
- Require transparency regarding existing subsidy flows, including repayments or the lack thereof…
- Governments should support international efforts to end subsidies…
Despite newspapers being longtime supporters of Fraser Institute calls for reduced public spending, they are now more than happy to get in line for corporate welfare.
That’s not surprising. While many Canadian journalists are principled professionals, rather few of their employers share that virtue.
The market suggests that Postmedia is not sustainable in the long run.
Public money would be better spent encouraging regional ownership of the company’s newspapers. Ownership that does not celebrate and feature elderly men with elitist, racist, misogynistic and climate-change denying attitudes.
But before Canadian taxpayer dollars are spent to prop up any media property, we should know full details of where dollars spent by advertisers in the digital world are going.
A study by consultants for the ISBA (Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) finds substantial shrinkage before each advertising dollar reaches site operators. Some of the missing dollars are legitimate, some may be diversions of income to tax shelters or improper destinations.