Question Period: Media Support

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Whale tail breaching water, Newfoundland

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. I’m pleased to tell you that yesterday — along with Senator Cordy, Senator Yussuff and Senator Loffreda — we hosted a round table on the crisis facing news media. There have been many layoffs and sell-offs — Bell, CTV, the CBC, SaltWire, and the Whitehorse Star, most recently. There were many constructive suggestions put forward. There was much support for federal measures, such as a non-profit model for registered journalism organizations, like the one used by La Presse.

Does the government share the view that news media is facing a crisis, and will you extend the digital news subscription tax credit for consumers, which is due to expire in 2025?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): The Government of Canada — and, I’m sure, in that respect, all governments and citizens — supports strong journalism. It’s an essential pillar of our democracy.

I’m not in a position to speak to your question about the extension of the digital news subscription tax credit, but the Government of Canada will continue to do its part to support local journalism. It has already done many things: It has put into motion and introduced the Online News Act. There are a range of programs as well, such as the Canada Periodical Fund and the recently boosted Canadian journalism labour tax credit.

The government remains committed to supporting a free press that is viable, reliable and independent at a critical time when we’re all facing an onslaught of less than credible news sources.

Senator Cardozo: My supplementary question is on the point you mentioned about strong journalism as a pillar of democracy. One of the issues that came up several times during the round table, especially from academics, was the concern that journalism is under attack from some politicians. They differentiated between ad hominem attacks on journalists versus challenging reporters when they disagree with them.

What is your view on the role of parliamentarians in respecting the work of journalists whose obligation is to hold public institutions accountable, ask the tough questions and inform the public?

Senator Gold: Again, I don’t presume to speak for everyone in this country, but I do believe there is — and certainly ought to be — a strong consensus that a rigorous and vigorous free press is essential to democracy. That includes, though it is not limited to, holding governments to account.

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