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Friday, August 13, 1999

Parliamentary press clippers review policies
MPs' service suspended

Tim Naumetz
Southam News

OTTAWA - The Library of Parliament temporarily suspended publication of its newspaper clipping service for MPs and senators after Liberal MPs complained the service included too many articles from the National Post.

Some of the Liberals aired their complaints at a caucus meeting in June. That came after earlier public criticism by Jean Chretien of a series of news stories the National Post published about substantial federal grants and loans that were awarded to Quebec businessmen who had close political, business and personal ties to the prime minister.

Jane Stewart, the Human Resources Minister who is considered Mr. Chretien's protege in the federal cabinet, and Oakville, Ont., MP Bonnie Brown were among the Liberals who complained in caucus about the clipping service, a reliable party source says.

"They wanted more of a balance with the Toronto Star," the source explained.

The head of the Library of Parliament, Richard Pare, confirmed yesterday that the service, called Quorum, was suspended until September to overhaul its editorial policies following complaints from MPs and senators about style and content earlier in the year.

As well, the library conducted a telephone survey of about 70 MPs and senators in June to ask their views of the clipping service.

But Mr. Pare denied that complaints about the number of National Post articles were the main factor behind the review.

"A few members were complaining that there was not enough regional coverage," the parliamentary librarian said. "It was the main concern. Also the timing in the morning; some members preferred to have it earlier."

When pressed, Mr. Pare added that the National Post may have been mentioned by MPs who complained about the predominance of clippings from Ontario and Quebec newspapers.

Asked if anyone from Mr. Chretien's office had complained, he replied: "Not to my knowledge."

Many MPs and senators rely on Quorum for their daily gathering of printed political news and opinion while Parliament is in session. The bulletin normally is published only once or twice a week during parliamentary recesses.

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