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A journalist and past president of Canadian Association of Journalists who tried to get a memo to the Liberal finance minister on the $600 million media bailout was informed the entire 27 pages would not be released publicly.
The response letter came from a federal government Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) officer who said that all “the records you requested are excluded” because they’re to brief the minister on government policy.
Maclean’s journalist Nick Taylor-Vaisey said he was looking for “recommendations made by the panel of experts that looked at how to implement new federal money for journalists.”
Earlier this year the Trudeau government created a panel of experts–including anti-Conservative union Unifor that represents thousands of media employees–that are representatives for some mainstream media outlets and conglomerates (including Torstar and Postmedia), to come up with a list of recommendations. Their list of proposals excluded many startups and the CRA will ultimately decide who are “qualified Canadian journalism organizations” eligible for government money. The bailout money is designated specifically for political journalism, which many critics have pointed out created a major conflict of interest (real or perceived) for journalists covering the 2019 federal election.
The Trudeau government promised “everything will be transparent” in regards to the bailout, but much of the process has been done behind closed doors with major industry players representatives sitting at the table.
“I’ll likely appeal it, but the tweet honestly became more than I intended!” Taylor-Vaisey told The Post Millennial about his ATIP return being completely redacted.
Many journalists that file ATIP requests with the federal government have been complaining about a broken access to information system that has only gotten worse under the Trudeau government. When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first won office in 2015 he had promised his government would raise the bar on transparency.
“The replies to [my] tweet have definitely reinforced the mega-trust gap between a subset of readers online and mainstream media. Redactions, however they were intended, don’t help that perception,” said Taylor-Vaisey.