Groupe Capitales Medias: appeal to the common front of a retiree

Tribune retiree Mario Goupil invites retirees and current employees of the six newspapers of Groupe Capitales Médias (GCM) to come together to demand accountability from brothers Paul Jr and André Desmarais, of Power Corporation of Canada, which he identifies as solely responsible for the collapse of the pension plan which affects some 900 people.
The last onday, Daniel Dumais judge of the Superior Court of Quebec approved the stimulus package of employee cooperatives lead the six daily. This plan provides for the termination of the pension plan, which will cause an imminent reduction of about 30% in benefits.

According to the recovery plan approved by the court, retirees must also give up any possibility of prosecution against donors and administrators of new cooperatives.

In a note posted on Facebook, Mario Goupil, who has been a journalist and columnist for 38 years at La Tribune, suggests to retirees and current employees of the six daily newspapers that they no longer fight among themselves and unite to force the Desmarais brothers to meet them and to explain themselves.

Already, on December 11, some 200 retirees demonstrated outside the Montreal offices of Power Corporation of Canada to assume, they said, its moral responsibility vis-à-vis its ex-employees.

Gesca, a subsidiary of Power Corporation, sold the six daily newspapers to lawyer and former minister Martin Cauchon in 2015. The liabilities of the pension plan were included in the transaction.

A little over a year ago, Gesca divested of La Presse , which has since become a non-profit organization, but Power Corporation retained the management of the employee pension fund, a decision that retirees from GCM wanted to see extended to their own situation.

Power Corporation claims that even before the 2015 transaction, it never had any legal obligation with respect to the pension plans of the GCM newspapers and that since 2015, none of its companies have been involved in their management.

The lawyer for GCM newspaper retirees, Estelle Tremblay, announced a few hours after Justice Dumais’ decision was released last Monday that she would submit it to the Court of Appeal. She maintains that the judgment contains eight errors of law and that the judge did not have to impose the impossibility of prosecution against the donors and administrators of the cooperatives.

Pierre Pelchat, spokesperson for the Le Soleil Retirees Association , added that the affair was far from over.

Prime Minister François Legault said last week that the government could do nothing to help retirees from GCM, even if it called their situation appalling.

Debt from a moral point of view

In his note, Mario Goupil concludes that morally, Paul Jr and André Desmarais owe the money that is missing to GCM pension funds. He wonders how they fall asleep at night when there are now 900 families, one of the leaders of which has just seen his annual retirement income drop by 30%.

Last month, the company announced net earnings attributable to shareholders of $ 359 million for its most recent quarter, up 93% from its profit of $ 186 million for the same period in 2018. December 13, Paul Jr and André Desmarais have ceded their place at the head of the conglomerate while retaining their functions as president and vice-president, respectively, of the board of directors of Power Corporation of Canada.

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