Opposed Subsidy But Took It

A Toronto publisher who publicly opposed a federal newspaper bailout sought and received funding under the $595 million program, according to records. “No statement, thanks,” said David Skok, editor of The Logic Inc.

The Canada Revenue Agency yesterday listed publishers who applied for subsidies and were approved, including The Logic. Editor Skok in a 2019 commentary called the program an insult to readers.

“It will have a direct impact on the daily assigning and editing of a journalism product,” wrote Skok. “But worse, the policy is an insult to the audience.”

Parliament in 2019 amended the Income Tax Act to pay publishers 25 percent payroll grants of up to $13,750 per newsroom employee annually and a 15 percent tax credit to online subscribers. Publishers must apply for subsidies and be approved as “qualified journalism organizations” by the Canada Revenue Agency.

An Agency document Guidance On The Income Tax Measures To Support Journalism explained Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier would have final say over which publishers received aid based on “a consistent practice of providing rebuttal opportunity for those being criticized” in news coverage, including the cabinet.

Editor Skok in his 2019 commentary Canada’s New Journalism Subsidies Will Pick Winners And Hurt Start-Ups said the Revenue Agency was “getting into the minds of editors to dictate what areas of coverage are deemed more important than others.” Subsidies were “problematic” and “will have a direct impact on the daily assigning and editing of a journalism product,” wrote Skok.

“I founded The Logic on the belief that journalistic independence comes from financial independence,” Skok wrote in a separate 2018 commentary. “I still don’t think government intervention was needed.”

Records show The Logic Inc. last year in addition to payroll rebates received a $218,049 grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage, pandemic wage subsidies, an interest-free Canada Emergency Business Account loan and a sole-sourced $271,200 contract for “communications research services” from the Department of Public Works.

Publishers are not required to tell readers they are federally subsidized and subject to Canada Revenue Agency monitoring for criticism. Blacklock’s neither solicits nor accepts government grants. Other publishers that received payroll rebates were:

  • AllNovaScotia.com
  • AllNewfoundlandAndLabrador.com
  • AllNew Brunswick.com
  • Belleville Intelligencer
  • Brandon Sun
  • Brantford Expositor
  • Brockville Recorder & Times
  • Calgary Herald
  • Calgary Sun
  • Caraquet Acadie Nouvelle
  • Chatham Daily News
  • Cornwall Standard Freeholder
  • Edmonton Journal
  • Edmonton Sun
  • Globe & Mail
  • Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune
  • Kingston Whig-Standard
  • The Logic Inc.
  • London Free Press
  • Montreal Gazette
  • National Post
  • North Bay Nugget
  • Ottawa Citizen
  • Ottawa Sun
  • Owen Sound Sun Times
  • Prince Albert Daily Herald
  • Regina Leader-Post
  • Saint John Telegraph Journal
  • St. Thomas Times-Journal
  • Sarnia Observer
  • Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
  • Simcoe Reformer
  • Sault Star  
  • Steinbach Carillon
  • Stratford Beacon Herald
  • Sudbury Star
  • Timmins Daily Press
  • Toronto Star
  • Toronto Sun
  • Vancouver Province
  • Vancouver Sun
  • Windsor Star
  • Winnipeg Free Press
  • Winnipeg Sun
  • Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Bob Cox, publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press who lobbied for the bailout program on behalf of News Media Canada, testified at 2019 hearings of the Commons finance committee that subsidies should not be paid indefinitely. “We will have to save ourselves,” said Cox.

“The program itself is envisioned to be for five years and I felt that was an appropriate period of time because of course there will be news outlets, newspapers, that fail the transition and you can’t give them forever,” said Cox. “There does need to be a deadline.”

CWA Canada, a union representing newsroom guilds, earlier criticized the bailout program as rife with conflicts of interest. “Big publishers were salivating at the prospect of government money and they got it,” said Martin O’Hanlon, union president.

By Staff Photo The Logic

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