A small delegation of CCNA representatives are slated to meet with executive members of the Liberal Rural Caucus on April 3 in Ottawa. The caucus, which has nearly 100 members in total, is made up of Liberal MPs whose constituencies are either totally or partially rural in nature.

CCNA will present background material on the community newspaper sector, concentrating on the fact that over 50 per cent of member newspapers publish in communities designated as rural. Several issues will be highlighted, especially the lack of federal government advertising in community newspapers relative to other media sectors. The perennial problems with Canada Post will also be addressed.

This meeting launches a concerted campaign to develop a better relationship with rural MPs and to stress the importance of community newspapers as engines of economic development in smaller centres. CCNA will deliver a regular series of newsletters and backgrounders aimed at rural MPs in the hopes of developing a better understanding the community newspaper sector. The association will seek a regular series of meetings with the full caucus as well in order to maintain strong lines of communication.

“We’ve noticed that MPs don’t have a lot of knowledge about our sector,” says CCNA Executive Director Serge Lavoie. “They know their local papers but they really don’t know how big our sector is and how important it is to the health of rural communities in Canada. They also don’t know about the poor track record the federal government has in supporting community papers through simple policies such as ensuring that the sector gets its fair share of government ads. Essentially, we want MPs to know that there is an important sector of the economy being overlooked largely because it is based in hundreds of rural communities rather than exclusively in the big cities.”

Joining Lavoie in the presentation are Robin Morris of the Chesterville (ON) Record and Angie Shepherd, publisher of the Kanata (ON) Kourier. Members of the caucus executive include its chair, Murray Calder, MP for Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey (ON), Claude Duplain, Portneuf (QC), Mark Eyking, Sidney-Victoria (NS), Paul Steckle, Huron-Bruce (ON), Rose-Marie Ur, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex (ON), and Senator Ione Christensen, Yukon.