A group consisting of politicians, business people and community organizations calling itself the Friends of the Montreal Gazette, has launched a campaign they hope will stop any planned staff cuts at the newspaper.
“Yes, a number of us came together to develop strategies for promoting the Gazette and trying to get public support in opposition to the cuts that Postmedia is proposing,” said Montreal communications strategist Johnathan Goldbloom who co-founded the group.
They launched an online petition Thursday, which by Sunday afternoon had over 1,400 signatures.
According to employees, who spoke to Global News on condition of anonymity, Postmedia wants to slash the equivalent of 10 full time positions from the paper, about 25 percent of editorial staff, more than what they say the company plans to cut at its other dailies across the country.
According to Unifor, which represents journalists across the country, Postmedia announced that 11 percent of staff would be laid off from member papers.
Friends of the Montreal Gazette says it’s unfair given that the publication is the sole English language daily newspaper in Quebec.
“The Anglophone community is already in jeopardy and we need to have journalists out there,” stated Mitchell Brownstein, mayor of the Montreal suburb of Côte Saint-Luc, home to a large English-speaking population.
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He and other supporters of the paper argue that such a drastic staff reduction would hinder the paper from fulfilling a vital function, and wonder if any planned cuts could be made in other areas.
“Because the Gazette provides the perspective of the English-speaking community and to all Quebecers,” reasoned Eva Ludvig, who signed the petition and is president of the English rights lobby group, Quebec Community Groups Network.
“There are many Francophone readers I saw on the petition.”
Any upcoming staff cuts would be the latest in a series happening for years now, and group members say the petition is only the first step in a campaign to save the paper from even more job losses.
They want to lobby the Quebec national assembly to have a resolution or statement made in support of the paper, as well as draft an open letter to prime minister Justin Trudeau to intervene.
Neither Postmedia nor the Montreal Gazette responded to Global News’ request for a statement, by deadline.