Trudeau says firing hundreds of journalists harms Canadian democracy

Toronto, Canada, Feb 9 (EFE).- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Friday that the decision by Bell Canada, the country’s largest telecommunications company, to eliminate thousands of jobs, including hundreds of journalists, harms Canadian democracy.

“This is an erosion of not just journalism, of quality local journalism, at a time when people need it more than ever given misinformation and disinformation, but it’s eroding our very democracy,” the prime minister said.

Trudeau criticized Bell Canada’s decision during a news conference, expressing anger at the company’s announcement Thursday that it would lay off 4,800 workers and sell 43 of its 105 regional radio stations.

Trudeau declared he was “pretty pissed off,” and added, “It’s a garbage decision from a corporation that should know better.”

Bell Canada, which for years had a virtual monopoly on telephony in the country, is now Canada’s largest telephone and Internet company.

It also owns, through Bell Media, CTV (one of Canada’s largest television networks), the iHeartRadio Canada radio network, and some thirty specialty television channels, such as the TSN sports channel and the BNN Bloomberg business channel.

The cuts announced Thursday, the company’s largest in 30 years, come almost a year after Bell Media cut 6% of its workforce and closed nine radio stations.

Bell Canada has blamed the layoffs on the Canadian government, saying it has not acted quickly enough to help media companies in crisis due to the diversion of advertising revenue to giants such as Google or Facebook.

Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said Thursday that these companies must hold up their end of the bargain.

“At some point, the companies have to pay their dues. And again, they are not going bankrupt. They’re still making billions of dollars. There’s still this very profitable company, and they still have the capacity. And that means they have to hold up their end of the bargain, which is to deliver,” St-Onge said Thursday. EFE


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