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ACP “mourns the loss” of a national cultural institution

The Association of Canadian Publishers has called Random House of Canada’s acquisition of McClelland & Stewart the “end of a long and illustrious history of a Canadian cultural institution.”

In a press release, ACP president Margie Wolfe says:

“I want to cry…. It’s a sad day for Canada…. McClelland & Stewart led the way, 50 years ago, in making Canadians aware of the wealth of writing talent in this country. They made Canadian book launches into media events, and turned Canadian authors into household names. They laid the foundation for a Canadian industry, in which they and other pioneering companies, like Coach House and Anansi, could build the reputations of Canadian writers at home and around the world.

The press release connects M&S’s announcement with the sale of Kobo to Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten last November and the decision two years ago to allow Amazon to open a Canadian warehouse:

All three of these decisions involved setting aside government policy restricting foreign ownership in the Canadian book industry, a policy that the Department of Canadian Heritage formally reviewed in 2010. No outcome of that review has been announced, and no information is forthcoming on when an outcome is expected. While we wait for a decision on ownership policy, observed Wolfe, it seems that the policy has become irrelevant in practice.

“All of us need to remember that the foreign ownership policy was initially introduced to both protect and encourage the development of an independent and diverse Canadian cultural sector. Today we have lost one of our greatest homes for Canadian stories. It’s a sad and scary day.