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Pierre Karl Péladeau (John Morstad)
Pierre Karl Péladeau (John Morstad)

Norman Spector

The real deal behind Fox News North Add to ...

In the village on the Rideau called Ottawa - where everything but the colour of the tulips is fodder for speculation about the next election - the entry of Sun Media's all-news channel is the soupe du jour in the press gallery. And when, on top of names like Kory Teneycke and Luc Lavoie, you add to the mix Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes and Fox News, al-Jazeera-loving lefties across the land suddenly see a threat from a diversity of voices.

Here's something that may come as news to them.

Rupert Murdoch was one of Labour's biggest backers against the Conservatives - then known as the nasty party - in the U.K. For him, Fox News in the U.S. is partly about influence. But the other part of the hugely profitable cable network is about business.

What's been missing from the discussion of an additional all-news network in Canada is the quid pro quo: what does Pierre Karl Péladeau get out of this? Surely, this is not just about getting the right to introduce another cable network in Canada, which, even if it succeeds - a big if - will not make megabucks. And, while everyone would like to have the influence that comes from having your own media horn to toot - which, in Mr. Péladeau's case, includes tooting back at Paul Desmarais and his family - there must be something more to it.

There is.

For the Asper family, ownership of the Conservative-friendly National Post was the ticket to government funding for a human-rights museum in Winnipeg. (Who knows what other funding would have flowed had Izzy lived longer?) Mr. Péladeau's personal priority is pedestrian: the return of hockey to Quebec City. The price of his support for the Conservatives is a new arena in that city, which is the NHL's price of admission for the franchise Mr. Péladeau would like to own and converge with his media properties.

A sure as the crocuses will appear next spring on Parliament Hill, count on an announcement by Mr. Harper - who, in addition to Mr. Péladeau's affections, has a small interest in preserving a few seats in Quebec - before the next federal election.

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