Le Droit saved after Quebec investment — for now
Province has promised $5M for major newspaper chain
The French-language daily for the Ottawa-Gatineau region, Le Droit, will continue to publish after its parent company got a $5-million investment from the province of Quebec on Monday.
Quebec's investment came just hours after the newspaper chain Groupe Capitale Médias made known its intention to file for bankruptcy protection, a move which would have left the survival of its six daily newspapers, including Le Droit, in doubt.
In announcing the financial aid, Quebec's government stressed the important role the newspapers play in Quebec society.
"It's impossible to envision the closure of six newspapers," said Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon.
Employees at Le Droit participated in an emergency meeting Monday afternoon to review the situation before the province announced its commitment.
"I'm still a little shocked," said Patrick Duquette, the president of Le Droit's union. "We [have] emergency assistance from the Government of Quebec until a more viable long-term solution is found for our newspapers."
Duquette said he is delighted to see the province's commitment to the importance of journalism for democracy and the public's right to information.
"People think it's just our jobs or the newspapers that are at stake," he said in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada, "But really it's a much broader issue, it is our democracy that is at stake."
The funding announced Monday is meant to keep the chain running for the rest of the year until a buyer can be found.
Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said he is concerned that the newspaper's fate remains unknown, and fears it may disappear some day.
"There is not a city that is capable of functioning, in fact democracy cannot function, if we do not have strong media. Le Droit is really the media locomotive of the region," he said in French Monday.
"We cannot have a real democracy without media, for a city like us it is a powerful development tool. We can't afford to lost that right."
The mayor is inviting Ottawa and Gatineau to try to find solutions to ensure the survival of media in their region.
Investissement Québec confirmed the grant will be given to Le Droit, even though its offices are located in Ottawa, because it is a newspaper that serves both Ottawa and Gatineau.
With files from The Canadian Press