Speech: MPP Ghamari’s first private member’s bill – Supporting Ontario’s Community, Rural and Agricultural Newspapers Act

On March 28 2019, MPP Ghamari was pleased to stand in the Legislature to talk about her first private member’s bill, Supporting Ontario’s Community, Rural and Agricultural Newspapers Act.

Community newspapers bring high-value engagement and trust to all levels of government messaging: federal, provincial, regional and municipal. Some 82% of Ontario citizens read their local community newspapers. Community newspapers like the Manotick Messenger and Ottawa Community Voice in the riding of Carleton are the voice of their community and strong contributors to their local economies.

Community newspapers are aligned with our provincial government’s mandates to help create jobs, to save taxpayer money and to reduce red tape for small businesses. In a December 2016 research poll, when almost 2,500 Canadians were asked the question, “Which of the listed media do you think are the most appropriate for advertising about federal, provincial and municipal/regional government programs and services,” 72% of respondents, or almost three quarters, said that they want to see advertising for government programs and services in their local newspapers. In smaller markets with a population of less than 100,000 people, six in 10, or approximately 60%, of adults believe that community newspapers are the most appropriate media for government advertising. Indeed, Ontario’s community newspapers are lucky to be supported and represented by the Ontario community newspaper industry.

This proposed private member’s bill has its roots in the riding of Carleton. This issue was originally brought to MPP Ghamari’s attention by Mr. Jeffrey Morris, who owns two local community newspapers: the Manotick Messenger in Carleton and the Barrhaven Independent in Minister MacLeod’s riding of Nepean. With the past purchase of the free Metroland news and subsequent shutdown of its local community editions, independently owned community newspapers are vitally important sources of information in Carleton and in other rural and northern communities throughout Ontario. They are also relied upon by many immigrant and new Canadian communities as crucial sources of local, non-traditional-English news. The proposed changes will help ensure the viability of these newspapers, enabling them to continue to bring their communities together and to provide residents with crucial local news.