Local media: opposition to the National Assembly calls for additional aid
Marc Tanguay and Monsef Derraji
The three opposition parties to the National Assembly’ National Assembly demanded on Wednesday that Quebec provide additional assistance to local media whose survival is currently precarious. This release follows in particular the cry from the heart launched Monday by Métro Média, publisher of Journal Métro and Métro Québec.
At a press briefing in the Salle Bernard-Lalonde of the’ National Assembly, the three party leaders, Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon (PQ), Marc Tanguay (PLQ) and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (QS) have all hammered home the fact that the local media are an “important component of democracy” and “an pillar” of the latter.
“The slightest bit of interest and respect for democracy, we must release funds to ensure quality journalism throughout the territory,” said Parti Québécois leader Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon. citing the difficulties encountered by Métro and Les Coops de l’information.
For his part, the Liberal leader, Marc Tanguay argued that “the state has a role to play, obviously respecting journalistic independence”. He ruled that a solution must be found in order to avoid the mass cuts that are looming on the horizon, according to the president and CEO of Metro Media, Andrew Mulé. “This is a file on which we are going to look in a very particular way”, he added, promising that meetings would soon take place in this direction.
Finally, in the solidarity camp, co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said he was “very worried about what is happening in the local press”. “The media crisis is not over. I think we have to find additional solutions. There have been financial aid announcements during the pandemic, that's good, but obviously it's not enough,” he said.
The government questioned
Questioned on two occasions in the last twenty-four hours, the government is not committed to investing additional sums. First, on Tuesday, during the study of the budgetary appropriations of the Treasury Board, the latter's president, Sonia Lebel, simply redirected the leader of the Parti Québécois to the Ministry of Culture when the latter questioned her on the measures taken by Quebec to “help small local media”. Mr. Saint-Pierre-Plamondon argued Wednesday morning that “no one in Quebec” was convinced by the minister's response.
On Wednesday, it was the Liberals who took advantage of the question period to address the Minister of Culture, Mathieu Lacombe. Saying he “saw” the release of Métro Média earlier this week, he said he was “aware” of the issues currently facing the local media. He recalled that Quebec has “extended” by three years the aid to the media which had been announced during the pandemic. Without committing to investing additional monies, he opened the door to “sit down” with news companies that might need more.