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Friday, May 30, 2008

Maclean's on corporate welfare?

Check this out.

The Canadian Heritage Publications Assistance Program (PAP) gave Maclean's magazine a little over $3,000,000 in 2006-2007. PAP is designed to "offset the mailing costs of Canadian content magazines and non-daily newspapers mailed within Canada."

Sounds like a straightforward government subsidy program, right?

However, "Magazines or non-daily newspapers are not eligible for postal subsidies if...in the view of the Department of Canadian Heritage, [they] contain material considered to be hate propaganda, sexual exploitation, excessive or gratuitous violence, denigrating to an identifiable group or in any other way offensive."

There is some similarity between this part of PAP's eligibility criteria and Bill C-10, which would deny tax credits to films deemed "offensive" or "contrary to public policy."  As Matthew Johnston has pointed out, the fact that C-10 pertains to tax credits and not subsidies as we normally think of them may be a reason to object to the bill.

That difference does not apply to PAP, which simply hands money over to Maclean's and other magazines (although Maclean's seems to get much more funding from the program than all its other recipients.) Still, I wonder how someone could be for Bill C-10 and against PAP's eligibility criteria.

And, regardless of what we think of the criteria, there is a question about whether Maclean's actually meets it. If Maclean's loses its human rights case(s), if an human rights tribunal rules that it has published hateful and/or offensive material, could it also lose its subsidy?

Or perhaps there is no need to wait for the resolution of  the human rights complaints. Perhaps Maclean's has been offensive enough even now to justify the removal of the PAP subsidy, under that program's criteria.

A certain liberal blogger thinks so and is contacting the government about the matter. More below.

This blogger first brought PAP's subsidization of Maclean's and the program's eligibility criteria to my attention. Now the blogger -- Big City Lib -- is looking into filing a complaint with the Ministry of Heritage in an effort to have the magazine deemed ineligible for the subsidy. The offensive and/or hateful material at the center of his complaint seems to be Maclean's publication of the infamous excerpts from Mark Steyn's book, America Alone.

As Big City Lib put it,

While we might argue all day about whether the Human Rights complaints against Macleans are frivolous or substantial, it seems pretty clear that the magazine is both publishing offensive material and sucking off the tax-payer's titty. While we are all for Free Speech Heroes, we are also all against Corporate Welfare. No?

Well, are we, or are we not? I think this blogger has a point. Shouldn't we support the ending of subsidies to magazines just on principle?

UPDATE: As Terry O'Neill points out in the first comment, the Western Standard received a little over $130,000 in subsidies from PAP as well.

Matthew Johnston's excellent post on Bill C-10 is here. I meant to include a link originally and then forgot to do so.

Posted by Terrence Watson on May 30, 2008 | Permalink


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A few comments:
In the final days of the Citizens Centre Report (the final incarnation of Alberta/BC/Western Report), the decision was made to reject this funding. The magazine went out of business just a few months later.
The rejection didn't put the magazine under, but it didn't help. The argument for accepting the funds had long been that the magazine would put itself at a competitive disadvantage by ripping up the cheque. That is, if all other magazines were accepting the money (as they did), we would be tying a millstone around our necks by not accepting the money too.
As well, it could also be argued that, in light of the fact the government took large amounts of money from us in the form of taxes, accepting the Heritage money was simply a matter of getting back some of the money that was ours to start with.
The Western Standard, by the way, accepted the grant money: $132,000 in 2006-07, for example. See: http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/ac-ca/progs/pap/pubs/report-rapport/annualreport2007/7_e.cfm

Posted by: Terry O'Neill | 2008-05-30 3:07:07 PM

"Still, I wonder how someone could be for Bill C-10 and against PAP's eligibility criteria."

My guess is that those for Bill C-10 and also for the PAP eligibility criteria. Remember, many defenders of the Western Standard decision to publish the Danish cartoons are not in favour of removing the various government restrictions on offensive material. They just happen to think that the cartoons were not really all that offensive.

In the context of Bill C-10 and magazine subsidies, I asked the question: Should government money come with government control? I answered my own question with a "no". You can read that post here:


Bill C-10 is awful legislation.

Excellent post, Terrence.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-05-30 3:09:02 PM

Hi Terry,

You make an excellent point. Subsidies often (always?) set up the incentive structure you described. In the end, it looks like a classic prisoner's dilemma: we'd probably all be better off if nobody got any subsidies, but no one wants to be the only one to forgo them.

Good for the Citizens Centre Report for rejecting them, though.



Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-05-30 3:16:07 PM

It's whore money. Everything it touches turns to shit. I started boycotting Macleans in favour of Time Canada back when the Libs discounted advertising expenses for those who preferred foreign magazines. In those days Macleans was an Eastern-leaning red Tory / lib rag.

The quandary in accepting whore money is the starting point at which Capitalists become rent-seekers. Their ultimate destination is to become a corporate welfare-addicted basket-case a la Bombardier.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-05-30 3:39:41 PM

MacLean's isn't a small little mom and pop outfit like the Western Standard was in comparision, but belongs to a rather large publishing group within the Rogers empire of opinion making.

Personally I have to wonder why a magazine like MacLean's that is only one of many money makers (and if you think they don't make money you don't know Ted Rogers) for a larger group of publications gets so much Government funding, regardless of content.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2008-05-30 4:04:07 PM

With the postal subsidy, the more you mail, the bigger your subsidy -- and Macleans has a large distribution.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-05-30 4:06:55 PM

"As Big City Lib put it,

While we might argue all day about whether the Human Rights complaints against Macleans are frivolous or substantial, it seems pretty clear that the magazine is both publishing offensive material and sucking off the tax-payer's titty."

Weren't the latte sucking limousine liberal set recently complaining about censorship (bill c-10) vis-a-vis funding a certain movie callled "Young People Fucking"

Sounds hypocritical to complain about publishing offensive material and getting tax payer funding.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-05-30 4:12:36 PM

Well with the liberals like BCL you can have a conversation and simply turn around and immediately bump into hypocrasy and h2o273kk9 just pointed it out.

Posted by: Sounder | 2008-05-30 4:23:48 PM

On principle, I am all for it. But if you file a complaint, as that Liberal blogger plans to do, because you don't agree with the contents of the magazine (frankly, I have not seen anything objectionable in the magazine yet -- unlike the Western Standard), then you are just a leftwing moron who wants to silence common sense.

Posted by: Werner Patels | 2008-05-30 4:46:51 PM

Well thank you for doing an interesting post, Terence. A couple of things:

Part of what I would like to communicate in the post you link to (esp. to people who might be pissed off with MaCleans etc. for publishing allegedly offensive material like Steyn's) is that there are other, less controversial and maybe more effective ways of expressing your displeasure than via HRC complaints. Comparisons to C-10 aside, we should all agree that, should we all ever figure out what "offensive" means, we should be able to call a magazine like Macleans or WS for being offensive if they're doing it on the government dime.

More generally, there ought to be at least a set of methods of protest which both Right And Left can agree are legitimate. So for example: boycotts. If pro-lifers can actually convince Disney to be less Gay-centric by refusing to visit Disneyland, and thus causing Disney to hemorage profits, more power to them. Same with picketing: If Mo Elasmry's bunch could dig up forty Muslims to wave placards in front of the Rogers building, they would get far more positive coverage for their cause, and far less media hassles, than channeling their aggression through HRCs.

In these cases, the whole argument that "you are trying to stifle debate" becomes irrelevant. OF COURSE I AM TRYING TO STIFLE DEBATE. I personally would have Macleans sack Steyn and hire someone that finished highschool. But the point is: there ought to be some common ground on which means are legitimate for accomplishing this end.

Withdrawing MacLeans PAP seems to me to be one of these legitimate means.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2008-05-30 5:04:57 PM

And sorry for missing an "r".

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2008-05-30 5:18:17 PM


"Withdrawing MacLeans PAP seems to me to be one of these legitimate means."

Agreed. Right after the CBC is shut down!

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-05-30 5:19:27 PM

The Asper Family who are a Billion Dollar media conglomerate is getting "100 Million dollars" from the government for a "human rights museum" surely they are able to pay for their own museum? See lifesite article below:
What Kind of Human Rights Museum is This?

Reality, July/August 2007
National newsletter of REAL Women of Canada

Israel (Izzy) Asper, head of CanWest Global Communications Corporation, had a dream. It was to leave as his legacy, not just to his family, or to his country, but to the whole world, a museum on human rights so people all over the world could come for inspiration, education and instruction. This dream is to be realized in 2011.

However, there were a few problems with his dream. In the first place, as wealthy as he was personally, with his media empire, which included ownership of the National Post, the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen, the Montreal Gazette etc., and Global TV; access to his well-funded Asper Family Foundation; and access to wealthy donors in the private sector, he still could not begin to raise the funds to cover the approximately $300 million building costs of the museum. As well, there were the further annual costs of approximately $22 million for the maintenance and staffing of the museum.

Mr. Asper died in 2003, but his family took on his dream: in particular, his daughter Gail Asper. In short order under Ms. Asper's direction, the proposed human rights centre received the following grants:

Province of Manitoba - $40 million
City of Winnipeg - $20 million
Asper Foundation - $20 million
CIBC, Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia - $3.5 million

This funding was still not nearly enough to get the project off the ground. Fortunately for the dream, the Liberal government, accurately assessing the museum as reflecting its own liberal values, announced on April 15, 2005, that a grant for the museum, in the amount of $100 million, would be provided by the government. The sun seemed to be shining on the project - that is, until the January, 2006 federal election, when the Conservative government was elected to power. The Asper family and supporters of the museum held their collective breaths over whether the Conservative government would honour the Liberals' pledge to the museum.

The problem with the museum is that it was mainly a shrine to former Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau and his Charter of Rights. That is, it was supposed to reflect the values set out in the Charter of Rights, which has been interpreted by Liberal-appointed judges to reflect the liberal views or philosophies of the judges and that of the Liberal party, rather than the views of the public.

Patrons of this museum are the feminist Governor-General Michaëlle Jean (See REALity, May June 2007, "Our Wayward Governor-General," page 3) and John Harvard, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. In the latter's former life, he was an outspoken left-wing Liberal MP from Winnipeg who traded his seat to allow the former homosexual Winnipeg Mayor, Glen Murray, to run in the June 2004 federal election (Mr. Murray was defeated) in return for his appointment in May 2004 as Lieutenant-Governor.

Further, to ensure that liberal values would prevail, the museum organizers identified, in addition to ethno-cultural and Jewish representatives, so-called "human rights experts", including representatives of homosexual and feminist interests, who were to sit on the museum's National Advisory Council. These representatives included:

* Constance Backhouse, hard-line feminist professor from the University of Ottawa, specializing in women's studies. She is currently writing a book on sexual assault in Canada.
* Ken Norman, former member of the executive committee of the notoriously biased and discriminatory Court Challenges Program (now, thankfully, disbanded by the Harper government - See REALity November/December 2006, p.7 "Conservative Government Cuts Left-Wing Agencies"), Professor of Law, University of Saskatchewan.
* Beth Atcheson, chair of the legal arm of the feminist movement, LEAF (Women's Legal Education and Action Fund).
* Lloyd Axworthy, known as "Pink Lloyd", former Liberal Foreign Affairs Cabinet Minister under Prime Minister Chretien.
* Stephen Burri, president of the homosexual lobby group EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere).
* Basil "Buzz" Hargrove, National President of the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW).
* Senator Mobina Jaffer, feminist lawyer, appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Chretien. She was a member of the feminist only Canada Panel on Violence Against Women, and a former unsuccessful Liberal candidate, as well as president of the National Women's Liberal Commission.
* Madame Justice Claire L'Heureux Dubé, retired feminist judge from the Supreme Court of Canada, founder and former member of the Board of Directors of the feminist organization CRIAW (Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women).
* Professor Kathleen Mahoney, hard-line feminist professor of law at the University of Calgary. She has published extensively on women's rights and has served as legal counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada on the issue of hate propaganda and pornography from a feminist perspective.
* The Honourable Maurice F. Strong, well known, left-wing UN advisor, currently under investigation for his Oil-For-Food gambit in Iraq. He is also co-sponsor, with former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, of the so-called "Earth Charter", which includes, in its provisions, a right to abortion, environmentalism, and aboriginal traditions, etc. as basic international human rights.
* The Honourable John N. Turner, former Liberal Prime Minister.
* Tom Axworthy, political strategist and policy advisor for the Liberal party, former principal Secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau
* Alexandre Trudeau, son of the late Prime Minister Trudeau and a left-wing film producer of a laudatory film on President Castro of Cuba and an anti-American film on the Iraq invasion.
* Senator Noël Kinsella - Conservative Senator appointed in 1990 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney - former Chairperson of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission for 22 years. He tabled a bill in the Senate in 1996 to include sexual orientation in the federal Human Rights Act.
* Senator Jerahmiel Grafstein, appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Trudeau in 1984.
* Senator Vivienne Poy, appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Chretien. She is the sister-in-law of former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson. Senator Poy tabled a bill in the Senate to change the words of our national anthem to remove the scandalous phrase "all our sons command". Not surprisingly, the bill was not successful. (See REALity, September/October 2001, p. 10.)

Although these left-wing extremists predominate on the museum's Advisory Council, there is a sprinkling of others, such as former red Tory Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and representatives from each of some Japanese, Ukrainian, Jewish, and francophone organizations.

These latter representatives, however, are all outnumbered by the left-wing, liberal activists who all bring to the Advisory Council their own special interests and agendas.

Many Violations of Human Rights:

The museum has two sections: the Hall of Fame and the Hall of Shame.

There are many violations of human rights in Canada to fill the Hall of Shame: these exhibits will, hopefully, serve as a reminder to future generations of past wrongs, never to be repeated. Examples include, the Chinese head tax passed in 1885; exclusion of all Chinese immigrants in 1947; refusal to allow a freighter with Sikh passengers to land in Canada in 1914; internment of Ukrainians, Italians and Japanese as enemy aliens; our treatment of Aboriginals; the refusal to allow Jews as immigrants, etc. The list is tragically long. On the other hand, the Hall of Fame will certainly be, according to Prime Minister Trudeau's former principal secretary, Thomas Axworthy, a monument to Pierre Trudeau. Mr. Axworthy described Mr. Trudeau's accomplishments in the Winnipeg Free Press, March 13, 2005, as follows:

[Prime Minister Trudeau] modernized divorce and reformed the Criminal Code in 1967 by removing prohibitions against homosexuality and abortion, passed the Official Languages Act in 1969, and is the father of the 1982 Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. …

In an article in the Ottawa Citizen (April 17, 2003), Izzy Asper is quoted as stating that his museum must:

… tell the dirty stories very clearly. And that relates to women, that relates to gays …

He goes on to say, however:

One is going to have to be very, very careful to prevent it from becoming a propaganda device for a particular political point of view.

Quite So.

The fact is that the museum is shaping up to be quite "a propaganda device". The museum will be used as a powerful tool to champion the left-wing interpretation of human rights, such as abortion rights, feminism, homosexual rights, with some legitimate exhibits sprinkled here and there to give the museum an appearance of legitimacy. Also, if abortion and gay rights activists find themselves in the Hall of Fame, for furthering such so-called human rights advancements as unrestricted abortion and same-sex marriage, then, by default, will those who defend human life from conception to natural death be relegated to the Hall of Shame, since they do not support all the "human rights" defined by liberals?

The museum is also intended to be used as a centre of learning for police, military, political personnel and, above all, children, to combat the "forces of hate and oppression" which include all those who do not support the humanist ideology.

Conservative Prime Minister Harper Backs the Museum:

On April 20, 2007 Conservative Prime Minister Harper announced that this left-wing museum would be designated a "national" museum of Canada. He said that it would receive the $100 million originally promised by the former Liberal government. He also said that the federal government would assume full responsibility for the museum's operating costs - possibly $22 million a year once it is opened.

With this federal funding, the museum must be transformed into a project that will recognize human rights from other than one left wing political perspective.

The selfless dedication of those protecting the lives of the unborn child, year after year, those struggling to protect the rights of the aged and ill against euthanasia and those defending the family and traditional marriage must not be dismissed as "bigots" and "extremists" unworthy of "noble" liberal ideals. In short, this controversial museum must not entrench the dubious values of left-wing interests.

To write to Prime Minister Harper and to Conservative MPs to insist that the Board of the Museum and its Advisory Council be changed to reflect the views of all Canadians:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
Langevin Building, 80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2
Fax: 613 941-6900

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

(No postage required if mailed within Canada)

Canadians may find their member of Parliament contact info at

Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2008-05-30 5:42:28 PM

I kinda like the idea of cutting off ALL funding and let the marketplace decide who makes money and who doesn't.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-05-30 7:27:22 PM


"I kinda like the idea of cutting off ALL funding and let the marketplace decide who makes money and who doesn't."

I kinda like it too but as I pointed out...the libs won't let the CBC die and they will accuse anyone who disagrees with funding violent pornography as being a prudish censor.

Right...Big City Lib?

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-05-30 7:51:50 PM


Thanks for your thoughtful response. I especially liked this part:

"In these cases, the whole argument that "you are trying to stifle debate" becomes irrelevant. OF COURSE I AM TRYING TO STIFLE DEBATE...there ought to be some common ground on which means are legitimate for accomplishing this end."

Unfortunately, I think the consensus between left and right on what is a legitimate means here is thinner than we both would like. For example, suppose I own a cable news network and decide to stifle debate on an issue by having my channel either ignore it or just present the debate in a terribly one-sided manner.

There are many who thinks this description fits Fox News perfectly (and Rush Limbaugh, etc.)

I take it most libertarians and conservatives think the owner of our hypothetical station is perfectly within his rights to stifle debate in this way, but I doubt many on the left would be comfortable with the situation I described. Some leftists I read have even suggested bringing back something like the Fairness Doctrine to deal with such cases (it would have to be an updated Fairness Doctrine to cover something like Fox News, of course.)

So there is still disagreement at a very fundamental level. It probably comes down to property rights, in the end: should people be able to use their property (and money) to cut off debate? Or is it so important for certain debates to occur that restrictions on the use of property to facilitate greater speech are justified?

I think left and right are going to have very different answers to both these questions.



Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-05-30 8:32:54 PM


I have no problem with FOX being one sided. If FOX were pubicly funded, however, I would. That's the difference.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2008-05-31 5:26:39 AM

I would also have issues if FOX were PUBLICALLY funded.

"Pubicly". Sheesh. Too early. Not enough coffee.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2008-05-31 5:28:37 AM

The Libs would go down fighting for the CBC, it's the media arm of the Party. Can't get much better than that, EVERYONE is paying for it's biased service.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-05-31 6:57:50 AM

'While we are all for Free Speech Heroes, we are also all against Corporate Welfare. No?'
Since when are Liberals against Corporate Welfare?
In fact I had never heard the words "corporate welfare" until Stephen Harper used them a few short years ago.
Are WE against funding Bombardier and space technology and Jack Layton's plans to tax us and spend on green technology?
Liberals can't say anything without tripping over their own tongues.
"Free Speech Hero's" in Liberal terms means anyone who does not accept the rules that Liberal's do support.
Liberal's should have to listen to themselves as punishment for their contradictions and gross ignorance.

Posted by: blanks | 2008-05-31 8:48:36 AM

Can anyone capable of reasoned thought imagine what another tax like the carbon tax proposed by Dion will do to the economy? Another nickel on the price of gas as it stands now will certainly put the country in a recession if not a full blown depression. Ordinary people cannot afford to keep paying and paying and keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables with ever increasing taxes. This seems to escape the dunderheads who are all concerned about the freaking climate. Yes the climate changes, has since the beginning of time. Canada is a very tiny player on pollution scale.

The only common sense comes from our PM, Stephen Harper. Yes, we will work towards cleaning up the environment but NOT at the expense of our own survival. The time frame must be realistic and allow us all to adjust and survive as a vibrant economy to sustain ourselves.

We have to remember the Liberals did squat in the decade they talked about environment, including Dion's tenure as Environment Minister.

Posted by: Liz.J | 2008-05-31 4:50:39 PM


your right of course, the left invented corporate welfare, in fact they invented most kinds of welfare.

As was pointed out earlier the rank hypocrisy of the likes of BCL, who shriek in rage because a media outlet has the nerve to offer a conservative voice, while the cbc is allowed to exist as a publicly funded propaganda arm of the left, in particular the liberal party simply removes him from any serious debate.

The cbc receives billions, not just millions to promote the fascist agenda.

If anyone thinks the left is not reveling in your misery concerning high gas prices you are simply deluding yourself.

They have been invested in the hysterical environmental movement for decades.

It has been the wet dream of the far left prices are where they are now, and as Dion obviously believes, as a good little fascist Canadian, you won't mind paying even more.

Sadly there are enough mindless "bats" down yonder that have been conditioned to believe just that.

Posted by: deepblue | 2008-05-31 6:46:57 PM


Maybe, but CBC buys its own stamps. Macleans magazine does not. And that's what the discussion was about.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2008-06-01 12:33:31 PM

CBC buys its own stamps?

Yeah, and people on EU pay income tax.

Posted by: dp | 2008-06-01 1:10:47 PM

make that-people on EI pay income tax.

Posted by: dp | 2008-06-01 1:11:54 PM

Perhaps this is a dumb question, but since so few films (particularly Canadian films) ever actually turn a profit (at least on paper), how can they qualify for a tax credit? If the production does not turn a profit, how is the "tax credit" really any different than a "subsidy"?

If it turns out they actually ARE turning a profit, why do they need the subsidies?

If the "profit" comes via telefilm subsidies, how can the "tax credit" really be justified, since it's a targeted tax break for an enterprise that made its "profit" from taxpayer dollars?

Posted by: Anonymous | 2008-06-02 12:07:10 AM

"Maybe, but CBC buys its own stamps. Macleans magazine does not."

You imbecile, the cbc doesn't buy a roll of toilet paper that isn't funded on the tax payers dime, hence my dime.

Your right, that is what the discussion is about, and until you can get your head around that fact, and once again admit your hypocrisy on this issue, you can hardly be taken seriously.

Posted by: deepblue | 2008-06-02 12:22:25 AM

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