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In its French papers and increasingly in English, Sun Media has been at war against CBC/Radio-Canada - a campaign that has now attracted the attention of Maclean's magazine. To the point that Le Journal de Montreal editor Dany Doucet is defending his paper against allegations that it's harassing its public broadcasting competitor (pejoratively and inaccurately characterized in English as a "state broadcaster") by using freedom of information legislation:

"Every week, this paper alone files 30 to 50 access to information requests - at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. As recently as Friday, our Parliament Hill bureau filed 100 requests in a single day! …The reason is very simple : we want to know how politicians and bureaucrats are spending taxpayer money. If we didn't have this law on the books, they could obfuscate or tell us nothing at all."

It's true that Le Journal regularly publishes a list of grants and contributions by the three levels of government. And, from time to time, it highlights a particular example of waste and extravagance-most recently on Monday, when it revealed the existence of a Treasury Board pilot project on the use of iPads by 20 public servants. Total cost to the taxpayer of the pilot project? $23,500.

However, there appears to be an exception to this vigilance for taxpayer dollars - and it's an exception that relates directly to the business interests of Le Journal's proprietor, Quebecor, a company that owns a broadcasting network, TVA, and also provides high-speed internet access through Videotron.

On Monday, in the very same edition of the paper that revealed the iPad pilot project, under the headline "Rural areas abandoned," readers of Le Journal were treated to a full-page colour spread on the lack of high speed internet services in some areas of the province, which "slows economic development and highlights the failure of the free market…because - for cost reasons--telephone and cable operators refuse to connect the last kilometre."

The report continues:

"Governments have established programs to compensate for private sector inaction, but these subsidies are insufficient"-as the list it presents (a partial list of federal programs over the years, I would argue) demonstrates, according to Le Journal:

Government of Quebec programs:

Information highway fund


$7 million to connect municipal libraries

Connected towns


$75 million to connect schools, school boards and city halls

Connected rural communities


$162 million to support the provision of high speed internet by companies, cooperatives and municipalities

Government of Canada programs


$225 million to support provision of high-speed internet service by small and large businesses.