Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 22, 1999
Heritage dep't takes a second look
Information on Church press deemed an 'eye-opener'
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Good news may be on the horizon for members of Canadian Church Press who could be in line for a postal subsidy rejection from the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Following a letter from CCP, Chris McDermott, manager of the department's Publications Assistance Program, said his office will reassess the terms of the program based on the new information provided to him, before processing further applications.
McDermott added the information he received from CCP was "an eye-opener."
"This is probably the first good news we've had since this started," said Audrey Dorsch, administrative assistant for CCP.
Correspondence from CCP, followed letters received by nine member publications who were denied postal subsidy. Through the program, publications pay 8.1 cents for each copy mailed to subscribers within Canada.
Rejections were based on the publications's lack of Canadian content or because they were considered in-house promotions.
It was a double whammy for the Spiritan Missionary News, which was rejected on both counts.
"There was a line about the fact that (Spiritan) was promoting the aims and programs of our organization," said Father Gerald FitzGerald, editor of the Toronto-based magazine. "This is totally untrue."
FitzGerald said articles focus on issues of interest to Spiritan missionaries. Such issues include immigrants and living conditions in Third World countries.
"I don't know what they mean when they say there isn't enough Canadian content," FitzGerald said. "The editors are Canadians, we write about Canadians."
Members of CCP who can sympathize with the Spiritan include the Catholic Register, B.C. Catholic, Prairie Messenger, the New Freeman, Resource, Scarboro Missions, Glad Tidings and The Link and Visitor.
Other CCP members were expecting similiar rejections. Religious publications from other associations have also been the recipients of bad news from Canadian Heritage. At least a dozen members of the French Catholic Periodicals (ACPC) have also been denied the subsidy.
In her letter to McDermott defending the Canadian content of the publications, Dorsch said freelance and shared articles are a means of providing news coverage throughout Canada.
Such articles were interpreted by Canadian Heritage as reprints and not original content. The letter also defends Canadian Catholic News, a news service with an Ottawa bureau financed by some CCP members, including the WCR.
In the letter, Dorsch wrote, "After creating a cost-effective method to provide pertinent Canadian content, it hardly seems fair that they should be penalized on another financial front because their solution is a joint one.
"The stories generated by the bureau are not generic one-size-fits-all filler. In contrast, the material these Catholic papers use from CCN is specifically created to meet the Canadian information needs of the participating publications, which have separate, but similiar audiences."
The Link and Visitor, a publication of the Baptist Women's Missionary Society of Ontario and Quebec, passed the Canadian content requirement, but was rejected because it was deemed a house organ.
"We have always been clear to say that it's a magazine for all women of the Church," said Editor Esther Barnes. "Our organization's aim is to enable women to grow in faith and become aware of missions. This is basically a generic aim."
The Link supports and reports on two missions, but these stories run twice a year.
Barnes said part of the problem could be the paper's link to the Baptist Church and therefore interpreted as a newsletter.
Claude Auger, president of ACPC said he has written to Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps and staff in the PAP office.
"So far the response has not been great," Auger said. "I received a letter from an assistant of the minister. It was evasive. It didn't commit to anything."
Auger encourages publications to appeal any negative decision made by the PAP office.