To say that Pierre Karl Péladeau’s announcement that he’s running for the Parti Québécois was a bombshell would be an understatement. The announcement monopolized the news cycle on Sunday and again on Monday. We’re still talking about it because of its implications. Canada’s largest newspaper chain is owned by a separatist. A media mogul is running for office, and everyone expects the media he owns to stay objective on the matter. And his selection is a huge risk for the PQ, which can ride his economic bona fides to power or see itself torn apart by ideological differences (whether or not it wins a majority).
His media outlets insist in French and in English that he has no control over them. Sun News handled the news straight, declaring that they too are not under Péladeau’s control. Here’s Brian Lilley and here’s Lorrie Goldstein. (Ezra Levant is fighting a libel lawsuit and hasn’t been on the air.)
There are news stories and analyses of Péladeau all over the place, but here are a few that are worth reading:
- Martin Patriquin of Maclean’s on the up side and down side of a Péladeau candidacy, and how it has changed the PQ.
- Vincent Marissal on how PQ candidates who were harshly critical of Quebecor in the past have pulled a 180 and are forced to pretend to like Péladeau. A similar recap from Denis Lessard.
- Chantal Hébert writes the most eloquently about the fact that Péladeau has to see himself becoming premier (or even prime minister of an independent Quebec) soon, but that holding together this unlikely coalition of left-leaning unionists and right-wing business people will be difficult even if they win.
- Andrew Coyne on how PKP is a businessman first, and everything else second.
- La Presse interviews PKP, which is a story in and of itself. Vincent Brousseau-Pouliot asks him whether he voted PQ (he won’t say) and if he thinks Quebec would be better off economically as an independent country (he gives an indirect answer, then says a somewhat qualified yes).
- Sophie Cousineau in the Globe on the business angle, how difficult it is to get successful businessmen into politics
- Bloomberg points out that the federal government welcomed Quebecor as a possible fourth national wireless company. Now, with Quebecor technically owned by a separatist, does the Conservative government have to distance itself from Quebecor?
- Patrick Lagacé talks to PKP friend Michael Fortier about whether Péladeau would be happy in his new position (Fortier says he doesn’t think so). Lagacé also points out how journalists (including himself) avoid talking about their employer, and how Péladeau’s continued ownership of Quebecor Media puts journalists in an awkward position.
- Henry Aubin (he’s back!) on how Péladeau is “uniquely qualified” to be the new leader of an independent Quebec. I’m not sure if this column is meant to be satire.
- Stéphane Baillargeon in Le Devoir compares PKP to Rupert Murdoch, talks to a professor about the ethics around him running for office, and includes a statement from an executive at the Journal de Montréal union saying they have no complaints about Péladeau interfering in the editorial activities of its members.
- Katia Gagnon in La Presse writes Péladeau’s biography, painting him as a micromanaging workaholic, and speaking to various anonymous former managers at Quebecor attesting to the fact that he does get involved in editorial matters.
This was sent out 2 weeks ago. "@TomK0tt: Awkward. #pkp pic.twitter.com/eQskNzl3dA” #qc2014
— Angelica Montgomery (@ajmontgomery) March 9, 2014
La Caricature de ce mardi 11 mars 2014! #qc2014 pic.twitter.com/AD48jWeysK
— Journal de Montréal (@JdeMontreal) March 11, 2014
Other tidbits to keep in mind about Péladeau’s candidacy:
- Quebecor is in the process of selling 74 community newspapers in Quebec to rival Transcontinental (TC Media). This will inevitably lead to mergers and shutdowns where both Quebecor and TC had competing papers. Among those markets is St-Jérôme, where PKP is running for office. Let’s hope that deal doesn’t close before voting day.
- Quebecor’s ownership of media in Canada could come under question if Péladeau reaches his goal of independence. The CRTC doesn’t allow broadcasters (like Sun News Network) to be owned by non-Canadians, and Canadian tax laws make it impractical for print media (like the Toronto Sun or 24 Hours) to be owned by non-Canadians.
- Dominique Payette, she of the report to the government pushing for official recognition of a journalist status, welcomes PKP to the party she is also running for, even though her report made clear that the kind of stuff that Quebecor is doing is contributing to the media crisis.
- Claudette Carbonneau, who was head of the CSN union during its two-year conflict with Quebecor over the Journal de Montréal lockout, has conveniently gone silent. She’s on a commission looking into the 2012 student conflict. She was appointed to it, controversially, by the PQ government.
- Patrick Lagacé points out how the FTQ was perfectly happy to deal with Péladeau even though it now condemns him.
- Be glad you’re not handling social media for Videotron this week. Its Facebook page is inundated with comments from people (particularly anglophones) who have cancelled their subscriptions or say they will, despite repeated assurances that Péladeau has nothing to do with running the company any more. It has decided to keep the page open to comments, mainly because Videotron handles a lot of its customer service that way.
- The right-wing Prince Arthur Herald said in December that Péladeau would be a candidate for the PQ in St-Jérôme. Just a lucky guess? La Presse speaks with the reporter.
- CJAD’s Aaron Rand thinks to disclose that he works for Bell, so offers a list of Internet service providers to choose instead of Videotron.
- Pierre Schneider, a former Journal de Montréal manager, says Péladeau is not the worst employer in history, and rants about excessively pro-worker aspects of the collective agreement at the paper before the 2009 lockout.
Suggested campaign song: Cos I'm P.K.P. I'm Dynamite P.K.P. And I'll win the fight P.K.P. I'm a power-load P.K.P. Watch me explode
— J. Kelly Nestruck (@nestruck) March 10, 2014
At the time I write this, PKP seems to already be feeling the effects. Despite getting support from Les Belles Meres to retain his shares, the market closed with Quebecor taking a loss on the day (both A and B shares).
Note to PKP: when Bloomberg speaks, LISTEN.
When the people speak (yes, the “little” people) you might want to listen too: http://separatistliesexposed.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/how-to-shut-down-pierre-karl-peladeau-the-pq/
After all the heat the PLQ took for being so supposedly corrupt, I don’t think Marois’ team is going to be let off the hook one this one, especially since they attacked David Whissell so vehemently for his “conflict of interest.”
The Journal De Montreal already supports the separatists, I hardly think they will start being objective now that the owner is running for the separatists.
– Whycome anglo media didn’t know that the owner of the Sun News chain was a sovereignist? Has everyone forgotten the brouhaha when Quebecor tried to purchase the Financial Post and Diane Francis pretty much said over my dead body because of PKP’s political views? Anyone?
– I find it ironic now how all the Quebecor journos and columnists are butthurt because they’re being accused of being PKPs mouthpieces when they level the same accusations towards La Presse and the Desmarais family or about Rad-Can being a shill for federalism (even though the latter seems to be a PQ recruiting ground).
In any case, it has made the elections a lot more interesting to follow.
Because he never said he was. The fact that people called him a sovereignist doesn’t mean he is one. People say a lot of things about a lot of people.
It’s been pointed out by a few that if this was André Desmarais running for the Liberals, the péquistes and Journal de Montréal crowd would be up in arms.
One more point: is it a coincidence that the Journal is being distributed again at metro stations?
I don’t see how the Journal de Montréal’s distribution strategy would be related to Pierre Karl Péladeau’s decision to run for office.
I really wish all my thoughts on this would just come at once… So what I hope is my last point isn’t about PKP but about Rad-Can’s election coverage, or more pointedly the fact that Patrice Roy, the 6pm newsreader has been the lead anchor/journalist for the last couple of elections and not Céline Galipeau. Shouldn’t she be front and centre?
There’s no law requiring it. Galipeau’s job is to anchor the 10pm newscast, so maybe Radio-Canada prefers she focus on that. TVA’s face-à-face debates were moderated by Pierre Bruneau, not Sophie Thibault. While both networks have their big names, I don’t think either has really adopted a there-is-only-one-face-of-news mentality.
Roy was also parliamentary correspondent in Québec City and Ottawa; while Galipeau was mostly a foreign correspondent.
Wow, this is a great example of how low things can go, and why things are going to shit fast in Canada (especially Quebec).
PKP should only be allowed to run as a candidate at the same moment that he resigns his position from Quebecor and moves all of his holding in the media company (and it’s parent holding companies) either into trust or puts them on the auction block. Does it sound extreme? Think a little and you will see why.
Any journalist working for any Quebecor media company is unlikely to write anything bad about his boss. It would be a pretty risky step to be the reporter that reveals that his boss (and political candidate) has done X or Y or Z wrong that violates the law or creates a conflict of interest. That reporter would likely lose their job in the future for doing it. Thus, the media is muzzled by the conflict of interest, and that media represents the source of new for the majority of Quebec francophones (between the newspapers, TVA, TVA Nouvelles, etc).
Of course, that protection be definition now extends to the entire PQ, as the boss wouldn’t be pleased if someone exposed something that derailed his ride to a position as the vice premiere or perhaps a key ministry (like the “seperated Quebec CRTC”). Anyone speaking up might as well commit hari kari shortly thereafter, they are pretty much as good as gone.
Given that his candidacy can and likely already has affected how the population will be told about this election, there really isn’t much else to do except to force him out of the company by emergency measure, and to requiring that he loses all control (and all potential for future control) of the media empire.
Anything less turns this election into a sham from end to end, a black eye for democracy, and an insult to the Quebec people. Then again, I expect nothing less from Marios and the PQ, desperate as they are to retain power no matter what the cost.
Canada and Quebec have sunk another notch down the ladder, rapidly approaching banana republic status.
Why should it be a problem? Péladeau can very well keep his canadian citizenship once Québec separates.
And no, Canada will not prevent anyone from doing so, unless it mightily wants to piss off millions of immigrants who have dual citizenship…
Apart from the two Sun News network links you provided, that network has conspicuously gone silent on the whole PKP involvement in the Quebec election. Normally this wouldn’t be seen as much, but Sun News has made it their stock and trade to “poke the bear” and churn out sensationalist stories, and separatism seems to be one of their favorite bulls-eyes. So when a network curiously dances all around the elephant in the room, that too speaks volumes about “journalistic impartiality”. Not covering a candidate to protect oneself (or the candidate) isn’t any better than the media using its power to promote said candidate.
I watched Sun News the day after Péladeau’s announcement. It was a segment in almost every program that day.
For that matter, let’s add this: if the only leadership debate is on TVA, do you really think that any of the questions asked of Pauline will be anything but softballs?
This situation taints the entire election from end to end, without exception. The Quebec electoral board needs to step in and stop this nonsense.
If Radio-Canada doesn’t air a leaders’ debate, that will be a far greater issue. As for the independence of TVA journalists, I expect the situation to be awkward, but I don’t expect them to throw their journalistic integrity out the window when everyone’s watching for that.
They can hang onto their journalistic integrity while pulling the punches. Make a list of questions, select the ones that the PQ can answer favorably, don’t ask the ones that they might flub, and you still can proudly wear the journalist badge without fear. Yet the public loses out, and that is really key here.
Even if Rad-Can has a debate as well, it won’t be as watched or have as much influence as that on TVA. You can also imagine that the Quebecor media group will of course parrot out the message of the leaders debate in the key of PQ, which means of course that most French Quebecers will receive a wonderfully one sided message.
it’s a disgrace, a sham.
I seriously hope the standards of professional journalism haven’t fallen that low.
Sadly, if you only read Quebecor Media sites, you would think that the PQ had a great first week of the campaign and that nobody else even really exists.
It’s stunning to read it from afar and realize just how slanted things have become.
So, debates in the QC election are not like those in other provinces I know of (where multiple networks air the same TV show)? Rather, they’re more like primary debates in the US – CNN holds one, then MSNBC, etc, etc?
Quebec does have a multiple-network debate. It airs Thursday March 20 at 8pm, on Radio-Canada, RDI and Télé-Québec. But TVA has stopped participating in those debates, apparently preferring their own style of a series of one-on-one debates. V, the other French network, doesn’t air them, I guess because it doesn’t have a news department and prefers to try to get some audience for its entertainment shows instead.
M. Fagstein, ça fait plusieurs jours que je cherche cette réponse. J’ai confiance d’avoir une réponse intelligente de votre part. Et vous pouvez me répondre en anglais, pour plus de nuances de votre part, si vous le voulez.
On s’entend que si PKP est ministre, ça met les journalistes/chroniqueurs/éditorialistes(?) de Quebecor dans une position inconfortable. On peut donc dire que dans un monde idéal, cela ne devrait pas arriver. Disons que ça arrive.
Ma question: quelle est la différence entre PKP propriétaire (en fiducie) de Quebecor et Desmarais propriétaire de Gesca/Power Corp (non en fiducie). Car Mulroney, Charest, Chrétien, Martin, Sabia, Rousseau; ce sont des…. disons des proches des Desmarais. Par exemple, Charest a été invité à Sagar et Sebia a été “convoqué” au bureau de Power après avoir été nommé à la caisse. Que les puissants puissent parler au premier-ministre, bravo! Mais quand Obama a voulu parler à Buffet, il a invité Buffet à la maison blanche. Il n’a pas été convoqué par lui.
Bref, en quoi est-ce que PKP est plus influent en tant que ministre que les Desmarais en tant que puppet masters? Et en quoi un journaliste de Quebecor devrait avoir plus peur de critiquer le PQ qu’un journaliste de Gesca devrait avoir peur de critiquer le PLQ?
Et s’il n’y a pas de différence, alors est-ce que tous les propriétaires de journaux/médias devraient vendre leurs actifs? Et à qui?
Non. Les journalistes de Québecor sont déjà dans une position inconfortable
Il y a beaucoup de nuances (Péladeau était plus actif dans les fonctions de Québecor Média que les Desmarais était chez Gesca), mais disons que en gros, il y a pas beaucoup de différence, et si André Desmarais se présente en politique, ça serait une situation délicate pour les journalistes de Gesca.
Mulroney est un proche de Péladeau aussi. Il siège sur le CA de Québecor et est même parrain de son fils.
La problème c’est pas que PKP (et Québecor) a trop d’influence sur la politique, c’est que la politique a trop d’influence sur les médias.
Tous les propriétaires qui se présentent en politique, peut-être. Mais à qui, c’est difficile à dire.
Merci pour votre réponse M. Fagstein.
La plus honnête, comme toujours, que j’ai lue sur un sujet de média.
Vous gagnez à être connu.
Comme toujours, une réponse qui vaut la peine d’être lue.
C’est rare, spécialement quand la question porte sur un média.
Je suis honoré d’avoir été éclairé par votre réponse.
C’t’un dieu, man!
Sérieux, je n’ai jamais vu un blogueur/commentateur/journaliste mettre autant d’efforts pour conserver l’apparence d’objectivité et d’absence de conflit d’intérêt. Il force l’admiration à cet égard.
Je sais pas si c’est mieux d’apparaître objective ou de l’être. Pour les conflits d’intérêt, c’est certain que j’en ai, mais je suis chanceux que The Gazette n’appartient pas aux grandes entreprises comme Québecor Média ou Bell Média.
Still a God in my book, Sir.
You’re good. Totally reliable.
Clearly, it didn’t take long for this to become an issue:
The story, which a desperate PQ have latched onto like a life preserver, pretty much plays out perfectly. JdeM comes up with a story that is quickly shot down by facts, but in the time between the apparently wildy overstated story and the official reply, the PQ had multiple high profile Canadidates and Marois herself complaining about the election being “stolen”.
There may be no connection, but the speed at which the PQ was all over this, seemingly totally prepared with talking points and all,makes you think that one tipped off the other.
PQ shouldn’t scream too loud about an unfair election in light of things like this. It’s impressive to see how far they will go to cover up their own failings.
That would sound pretty suspicious if it weren’t for the fact that this whole thing started with a story in Le Devoir.
Well, done deal, he is elected.
Now it’s time for the CRTC to wake up and take immediate action to separate the politician from the media empire, in the most strongest of terms possible.