Libs refusing to comment

There are still many unanswered questions — including who, what, when, where and why — from one of my previous columns.

In November, I referred to the Fall Economic Statement that included new announcements, one of which was a controversial $595 million to subsidize some Canadian media organizations.

I observed that this media subsidy raised serious concerns from many prominent journalists on the important role of journalistic independence from government.

I also raised some of my own questions.

If a media organization is denied funding, what recourse does it have?

  • Should it change the style or tone of reporting?
  • Cover different stories?
  • Hire a lobbyist?

There remain no answers.

There is also the fact that the Liberals introduced this media subsidy program in an election year.

At that time, the Liberals indicated they would appoint a panel to decide who is, and who is not, eligible for this funding.

This week, the Liberals revealed the organizations that will serve on that panel.

They are:

  • News Media Canada
  • Association de la presse francophone
  • Quebec Community Newspaper Association
  • National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada,
  • Canadian Association of Journalists,
  • Federation professionnelle des journalistes du Québec
  • Federation nationale des communications
  • Unifor.

The choice of these appointments has raised some serious media alarm bells.

Canadian columnist Andrew Coyne stated:

“It is quite clear now, if it was not already: this is the most serious threat to the independence of the press in this country in decades.”

From my perspective I also have very serious concerns about this program.

In response to the breaking news from the Globe and Mail regarding SNC Lavalin, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed:

"The allegations in the Globe story are false.”

In other words, he seemed to imply it was a “fake news” story, a tactic increasingly used south of our border.

It is therefore concerning that Mr.Trudeau is naming organizations that will ultimately be deciding which media organizations are eligible for this subsidy program.

As a result, I believe it is critically important that only independent non-partisan organizations should have a role in this.

For example, one of Mr. Trudeau’s appointments is Unifor,  a union that represents many journalists and other staff who work in variety of different media organizations.

Unifor’s national executive board has publicly stated it will be “the worst nightmare” of the leader of the Conservative Opposition in the upcoming election.

These views are well known and despite that, Mr.Trudeau has appointed this politically partisan union to participate in the process of selecting eligible media set to partake of a large Liberal government subsidy.

Regardless of personal political views, I believe adding partisan interests to this process should raise serious worry.

My question this week:

  • Do you support this media subsidy being influenced by partisan groups such as Unifor or do you think it should be a non-partisan process?

I can be reached at [email protected] or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories