Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Will Steve Harper bail-out the National Post?

With all the National Post has done for the Conservative movement since 'ol Conrad Black set up shop in Don Mills, a government bail-out would be the least Stephen Harper's Conservatives could do:

The Harper government is considering help for Canada's troubled private TV broadcasters, including looser regulations and tax changes.

In an interview today with The Canadian Press, Heritage Minister James Moore says the government is looking at how to assist CanWest Global, which is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

He suggests the help could come in the form of loosened regulations and changes to the tax system, which would also help other private networks.

CanWest, CTVglobemedia and Quebecor have all been lobbying Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet for assistance.

And wait! What's this?
CanWest hired a former senior adviser to Harper to help with its lobbying efforts.

Quick, to the lobbyist registry! And I'm sure they've waited-out the mandatory cooling off period, right?

So, public assistance for the private media, courtesy Steve Harper's Conservatives. How do you like them apples, CBC?

UPDATE: According to the lobbyist registry, CanWest has no currently registered external lobbyists, but does have a number of internal staff registered to lobby on its behalf. Among them is Charlotte Bell, the vice-president of regulatory affairs, television and radio for CanWest Media Works, whom you may recall caused a little kerfuffle when she was involved in organizing a fundraiser for then Conservative heritage minister Bev Oda:

Heritage Minister Bev Oda has cancelled a fundraising event after critics attacked the fact that it was organized by a woman who lobbies her department.

Charlotte Bell, the vice-president of regulatory affairs, television and radio for CanWest Media Works, had been helping organize the fundraiser to re-elect Ms. Oda, bringing about opposition claims that the Conservatives were not acting as ethically as promised when it comes to corporate influence in politics.

Ms. Oda's spokesman, Chisolm Pothier, said she and Ms. Bell are old friends and the fundraiser was an annual event dating back to Ms. Oda's days in opposition.

"The minister was not aware Charlotte Bell was registered to lobby Canadian Heritage," he said. "To avoid any negative perception, she decided to cancel the event."
However, I don't think she was ever a "senior Harper adviser" though. And none of the other listed internal registered lobbyists appear to have held a "public office."

So the question remains, just who is this former "senior Harper adviser" that CanWest hired to lobby the government to help it stave off bankruptcy, and why aren't they listed in the registry?

Not to mention, of course, why help private broadcasters but tell the CBC to sink or swim?

UPDATE 2.0: More from impolitical.

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cls said...

Didn't the Conservatives repeatedly say that government can't pick which businesses or industries win or lose? They must have had their fingers crossed when they said it.

janfromthebruce said...

Good post BCer. I can't wait to hear their opinion pieces on their corp welfare handout - cough.
After their begging routine, I mean lobbying, their credibility as a "right-wing" bastion of "pulling one up by their bootstraps", and private enterprise is the most economically viable way to build capital, and the rest of the rah, rah of capitalist mythology will be in the toilet.

burlivespipe said...

No bail out. Maybe appoint the NaPo to the senate to give postal code Duffy some edgy right-wing company...

RuralSandi said...

Hmmm....would they be willing to give hand outs to the only left leaning paper (The Star)?

If they give money to these RIGHT leaning papers - wouldn't THEY then become "publically" financed media?

Leeky Sweek said...

"Not to mention, of course, why help private broadcasters but tell the CBC to sink or swim?"

I believe the CBC already got a bailout to the tune of $1.1B. I doubt if any other broadcaster is going to get that much.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Leeky, isn't that the CBC's base funding? We're talking about additional help here because of the economic crisis. And when he denied that help, James Moore said CBC had to sink or swim and adjust to the market just like the private networks. That's why it's rather rich he's now working to help the private networks, instead of forcing them to sink or swim and adjust to the market like he advised the CBC.

Leeky Sweek said...

Yes, it is base funding. No other broadcaster gets that.

IMO, the CBC already got all the help it deserves.