Sun Media has pulled its newspapers out of the Ontario Press Council, complaining about the "politically correct mentality" of the province's print-media watchdog.
Glenn Garnett, Sun Media's vice-president of editorial, sent a letter to the council earlier this week saying that the company's newspapers were withdrawing their membership, effective immediately.
'The editorial direction of our newspapers, especially our urban tabloids, is incompatible with a politically correct mentality that informs OPC thinking, in the selection of cases it hears, and the rulings it renders.' —Glenn Garnett, Sun Media spokesman
"The editorial direction of our newspapers, especially our urban tabloids, is incompatible with a politically correct mentality that informs OPC thinking, in the selection of cases it hears, and the rulings it renders," Garnett wrote.
The Ontario Press Council investigates complaints about some of the largest newspapers in Canada, including the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.
The press council has for years overseen 37 dailies, including 27 Sun Media newspapers such as the Toronto Sun, the Kingston Whig-Standard and the London Free Press.
The council is made up of representatives of its member newspapers which, until this week, included Sun Media staff.
Last year, Sun Media's parent company Quebecor announced it was withdrawing from the Quebec Press Council. Sun Media also owns daily newspapers in Manitoba and Alberta, but they do not belong to their respective press councils either.
The Toronto Sun recently came under fire for its decision to publish a photograph of Prince William's wife Kate at the precise moment a gust of wind lifted her dress.
Editor-in-Chief James Wallace defended the decision, saying the Sun delivers "news with edge and attitude" and that the picture was deemed to be "compelling and newsworthy."
Robert Elgie, the chairman of the Ontario Press Council, said he was disappointed to learn of Sun Media's decision.
"We're very sad about it, but that's the way they want to do business right now," Elgie said.
It's too early to tell what impact the pullout will have on the press council's finances, he added.
"We've been through a pretty vigorous cost control and cost reduction process for the past year and we'll have to evaluate what the situation is once we get everything, all the numbers put together," he said.
"I hope it won't have an impact, because I think we play an important role on behalf of the public and the press."
In addition to the 10 daily newspapers the Ontario Press Council now oversees, 191 community papers are also members.