English-speaking residents outside greater Montreal say they feel cut off and abandoned.
Since March of this year, some say they haven’t been able to get publications of most English-language newspapers in stores, and many like Robert Beaulieu, who lives in Sheford in the Eastern Townships, about an hour and a half south-east of Montreal, say they wonder what’s going on.
According to Beaulieu, he hasn’t been able to get the Globe and Mail.
“The only way I can get it is my sister mails it to me from Kingston,” he laughed.
Others say they haven’t seen copies of the Montreal Gazette or the National Post, either.
“We’re really deprived,” said retired lawyer and Sutton resident Peter Turner. “But you know, it seems to be happening everywhere.”
Retailers in the region, home to a large English-speaking population, say they stopped receiving copies of some of the papers in March.
Postmedia, which owns both the Montreal Gazette and the National Post, sent a notice to retailers in February saying that their distributor would no longer be distributing the National Post as of March.
And Phillip Crawley, Globe and Mail publisher and CEO, said its distributor gave up.
“The existing distributor effectively said, ‘Look, I can’t keep this going. Fuel prices gas prices going up so steeply, it’s just not worth my while to do this anymore,'” Crawley told Global News.
He said since then the paper was able to find another distributor, so the Globe should still be available at retailers.
Global News did not hear back from the Montreal Gazette, but Eastern Townships residents, many of them former Montrealers, say getting that paper matters to them.
“For local politics, the REM (Réseau express métropolitain), stuff like that,” Turner said. “The English point of view.”
Eva Ludvig, a member of the board of the Quebec Community Groups Network, which advocates for Anglophone rights in the province, said many elderly have difficulty accessing the publications online.
“Which is an important thing but it also adds to their isolation,” she said, “and it really affects the vitality of our community in terms of access to what’s going on.”
Ludvig added that there are efforts to help seniors get online.
But the bigger problem, experts say, is the business model for much of print journalism.
“There’s not a great business model for producing news on paper,” said Magda Konieczna, an associate professor in journalism at Concordia University.
According to her, it often just costs too much.
Turner, who does get some of his news online, both in French and English, said that he does understand the problem, but that he still prefers the physical paper.
“It upsets me but I have to accept it I guess,” he said.
He conceded that it’s a sign of the times.