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Poilievre says media bailout fund creates government influence, not jobs

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Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre is at his wit’s end with the legacy media establishment. He complained on Monday about the national media being “bought and paid” by the Trudeau Liberals.

“We don’t want to give any tax dollars to the mainstream media,” Poilievre told reporters. He pledged to end all media bailouts if elected Prime Minister.

Federal subsidies have turned journalists into a government-paid press reliant on the Prime Minister’s Office, continued the Opposition leader. “Canadian conservatives do not believe in giving tax dollars to media outlets,” he said.

A testy back-and-forth ensued Monday between Poilievre and The Canadian Press, after the former accused the latter of “spreading Justin Trudeau’s message” on the taxpayer dime.

“Our Party does not support tax dollars for media outlets because that’s when we wind up with biased media like you who come here and articulate the Prime Minister’s Office talking points rather than delivering real news to the Canadian people,” he added. “You are a tax-funded mouthpiece to the Prime Minister’s Office. That is the reality.”

On Tuesday, the Commons heritage committee today commenced hearings on a Bloc Québécois motion to determine if subsidizing the national news sector remains appropriate. “Urgent action must be taken,” it reads.

In 2019, parliament approved a $595 million bailout fund for the media. The Trudeau Liberals doubled newsroom rebates from a maximum $13,750 per employee to $29,750 last November 21.

Last August 31, the federal government unveiled the expected cost of revenue-sharing agreements between tech giants and news publishers as part of the draft regulations for Bill C-18, the Online News Act.

According to government officials, Google and Facebook would owe publications $172 million and $62 million annually to Canadian publications, undercutting the Parliamentary Budget Office’s (PBO) $329 million estimate.

However, millions in subsidies originally justified in the name of job creation had not saved media jobs, claimed Poilievre. A Department of Canadian Heritage memo last year confirmed handouts would not save the ailing sector, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“At least one third of Canadian journalism jobs have disappeared since 2010,” said the memo The Online News Act. 

“Between 2008 and February 1, 2023, a total of 470 local news operations closed in 335 communities across Canada. Between the same period 210 new news outlets launched,” it said.

After the fact, Bell Media axed 1,300 media jobs to “significantly adapt” its news delivery methods. On Thursday, they announced 4,800 more layoffs “at all levels of the company.” 

“I guess that wasn’t the real reason for giving tax dollars to the media,” Poilievre said jokingly. “The real reason was to buy support from the media which is what it actually did.”

“The government supports journalism in several ways but supports alone cannot redress the structural decline of the current business model,” added Online News. Media subsidies did not result in any net job creation, it confirmed.

Poilievre told reporters that the national media should be driven by readership, viewership and listenership. “That is what allows it to represent the Canadian people rather than taking marching orders from the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said.



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