To keep the public in the dark about which legacy media companies received money from the Trudeau government’s $600 million media bailout, the government is citing confidentiality and “taxpayer information.”
The Revenue Agency concealed the details of the cash payments in response to an Inquiry of Ministry tabled in the House of Commons, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
“Since January 1, 2019 how much funding has each outlet received to date?” asked Conservative MP Chris Warkentin.
“Confidentiality provisions under section 241 of the Income Tax Act prevent the Agency from releasing taxpayer information,” replied Revenue Minister Diane Lbeouthillier.
Media executives who were given controlling power of a federal funding program for journalism received large bonuses for their own enterprises. According to Blacklock’s Reporter, media executives on the Local Journalism Initiative judging panel have approved grants to hire additional personnel for their own firms.
Startup news outlets were not allowed to apply for grants.
Despite its former publisher Bob Cox serving on the panel appointed by Canadian Heritage to design the subsidies, Winnipeg Free Press received $1 million in payroll rebates per year.
When questioned Cox about the possible conflict of interest in 2020.
“Panel members did not and do not consider any applications that may involve a business conflict. I was not present for any discussion of applications either from my own company, FP Canadian Newspapers, or any media companies competing in the Manitoba market,” Cox told True North.
Halifax Chronicle Herald received pandemic wage subsidies and payroll rebates under a $595 million media bailout according to Western Standard. Halifax Chronicle Herald which is part of the company Saltwire Network Inc, and fired 111 employees on September 1, 2020.
Critics of the bailout including CWA Canada president Martin O’Hanlon called the program “heavily skewed” toward favoured papers.
“This is skewed heavily in favour of entrenched newspapers and their managers,” said O’Hanlon. “If this was supposed to be open and transparent, I don’t think that happened here. They chose the people they wanted to get the answers they wanted.”