Trudeau Liberals $600 million News Media Bailout Package Taints Press Independence and is a Step Backwards for Canadian Democracy

November 30, 2018

Last week the Liberal government announced a $600 million bailout package for the news media industry. A panel of Liberal-appointed journalists will determine which private news outlets are eligible to receive your tax dollars.

The Liberals had originally announced a $50 million package as part of the 2018 budget but, at a time when we are less than 11 months from the October 21, 2019 federal election, decided to make it 12 times larger.

A healthy democracy relies on an independent press free of political influence. It should never be up to any government to determine which media outlets receive government support and which media outlets do not.

The reason Canada has strict rules on campaign finance is because big money can lead to undue influence or favouritism. Justin Trudeau is compromising both the independence of the media and the integrity of our electoral process with this election-year bailout.

Canadians are aware of the disruption the internet has caused the news media industry and have empathy for employees and their families. However, like in other competitive industries, Canadians expect private businesses to adapt to changing consumer preferences.

Here in Courtenay-Alberni – Black Press has three successful newspapers, the Comox Valley Record, Parksville Qualicum News and the Port Alberni Valley News. The journalists and publisher of our local newspapers are responsive to the readers and advertisers in our local communities.

Journalists do not make a lot of money but they are passionate about what they do and by being independent and reflecting diverse views that may or may not support the government-of-the-day, they play a critical role in the health of our democracy.

Will the newspapers that receive funding, or that are seeking assistance from the “bailout package”, be as critical of the Liberal government in practice, or in the perception of Canadians?

Byron Horner

Conservative Candidate for Member of Parliament
Courtenay-Alberni 2019