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Peter Menzies: Google shuns the big media moguls in decision over news fund—but it’s Canadian consumers who will pay the heaviest price

Commentary
In this Dec. 4, 2017, file photo, people walk by Google offices in New York. Mark Lennihan/AP Photo.

An ad hoc collection of independent operators has won the right to chant “Who’s your Daddy now?” to Canada’s largest media moguls.

Google had a choice between two bids for the right to be in charge of the $100 million fund it had agreed to finance in exchange for an exemption from the government’s disastrous Online News Act. One group was composed of the CBC, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and News Media Canada, which represents large legacy newspaper companies. The other—the freshly founded Canadian Journalism Collective (CJC)—includes 12 much smaller organizations such as Pivot, The Resolve, IndigiNews, Village Media, and the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations.

Google made its choice to go with the CJC group, it said, because their proposal was most closely aligned with its principles and the intent of the fund to offer “diversity of representation, a robust governance structure, a high level of transparency, and assurance that as much funding as possible would go to news organizations.”

The winners will now be scrambling to put their governance structure in place. The losers are left to mutter behind the steering wheels of their BMWs. Google meanwhile waits expectantly for its exemption application to be approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is pretty much in charge of Canadian journalism now.

Stephen Staley: Canada has a corporate culture problem

Commentary
An office worker in the financial district of Toronto, on Thursday, June 2, 2016. Eduardo Lima/The Canadian Press.

Much ink has been spilled in the past year, rightfully, on the economic challenges facing Canada. Under Trudeau’s less-than-impressive leadership the country struggles to attract capital, both from outside its borders and even from homegrown institutional investors. Mediocre employment data turns downright gloomy when you see the public/private splits in our hiring trends. Our overall GDP limps along on the back of record immigration, while GDP per capita sags under the weight of anaemic productivity. All of this while Canadian consumers struggle to maintain their lives and livelihoods in the face of generational inflation and cost of living crises.

There are many culprits deserving of staring down the business end of a finger pointed their direction. Governments at all levels have erected gates and staffed up gatekeepers to prevent doing, or God-forbid, building anything of economic value. Taxes at all levels are too high, and getting higher, with little of consequence or value to show for all the dollars confiscated. Our aforementioned institutional investors are lured by the siren song of foreign opportunities and don’t keep enough Canadian capital at home.

Multi-variate, economy-wide challenges rarely have a single villain to blame, but in this case, there is at least one party who is insufficiently identified as being responsible for the economic headwinds Canada faces and deserves to shoulder a heavier proportion of the blame than they do today: our corporate “leaders.”