A government official has told senators that a list of approved media companies for government subsidies will eventually be created, but cannot say what the qualifications will be.
Trevor McGowan, Director General of Tax Legislation for Finance Canada, told a Senate committee that the federal government will produce a list of media companies of which the Trudeau government approves— being on this list qualifies them for a multi-million dollar subsidy program.
“The rules themselves allow for the publication of a list of qualifying journalism organizations. It would allow for, say, the Canada Revenue Agency to have a list saying here are the organizations that qualify for the digital tax credits. You could go to that list,” McGowan said.
Under a new bill being proposed by the Trudeau government, government-approved media companies can apply for a 15 percent tax credit, giving them a major financial advantage against those which are not.
Despite the huge price tag and the potential to influence which media companies prosper and which fail, the government has so far refused to give any details of what counts as “qualified” journalism.
Also up for grabs is a payroll subsidy, $13,750 for each newsroom employee per year. This is budgeted to cost taxpayers $360 million over the next four years.
Opposition senators in the committee voiced their skepticism at the legislation and the bureaucrats, which both failed to address the lack of transparency.
“What frightens me about some of these things is there are a lot of assumptions and you’re not willing to provide us with hard facts,” said Conservative Senator Nicole Eaton.
The landscape of Canadian media may forever change after the Trudeau government passes this legislation and funnels millions of dollars to “government-approved” media.