Tories are making ‘partisan’ arguments about intent to help media: Morneau

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OTTAWA — Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the Conservatives are making partisan arguments about his plan to help the news industry with tax measures.

Morneau offered a little more insight into the government’s objective Thursday morning at an Economic Club of Canada event in Ottawa, saying the change in the media landscape has been dramatic and strong journalism is essential for a healthy democracy.

The federal government announced Wednesday that it wants to help the struggling industry with tax credits and tax incentives valued at nearly $600 million over the next five years, but the details of the of the programs won’t come until the next federal budget — after the government gets advice from an independent panel it hasn’t named yet.

The Tories were quick to criticize the idea of the government picking panel members, arguing that the Liberals will indirectly get to decide which organizations survive, and accusing them of trying to buy off the media in an election year.

Morneau says the opposition’s argument that his government is being opportunistic by appointing a panel before an election is simply “partisan.”

He says his experience is that journalists don’t necessarily agree with what the government does and that won’t change.

The Canadian Press