Former PC cabinet minister Kevin Klein buying Winnipeg Sun from Postmedia

Kevin Klein is buying the Winnipeg Sun. (Ian Froese/CBC - image credit)
Kevin Klein is buying the Winnipeg Sun. (Ian Froese/CBC - image credit)

A former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and MLA is buying a Winnipeg newspaper.

Kevin Klein has agreed to purchase the Winnipeg Sun, where he once was the publisher, Postmedia confirmed on Monday.

The Klein Group, of which Klein is president and CEO, is also buying the Graphic Leader in Portage la Prairie, Man., and the Kenora Miner and News in western Ontario.

Postmedia's commercial print division in Winnipeg, including all associated digital properties, contracts and other related parts of the businesses, is also part of the sale to the investment group.

Postmedia said all employees are expected to keep their jobs.

"In an age where information is abundant and easily accessible, the role of local journalism is more crucial today than ever before," Klein said in a news release.

"We are honoured to take ownership of these local newspapers and are dedicated to preserving their legacy of providing trusted, community-focused news."

Politician became Sun columnist

Klein has been writing a regular column for the Winnipeg Sun since he was defeated in last fall's provincial election.

He served as publisher of the newspaper from 2007 to 2013, according to his LinkedIn account.

Klein served as a Winnipeg city councillor for one term, representing Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood from 2018 to 2022. He ran for mayor in 2022, but came in third place.

Ian Froese/CBC
Ian Froese/CBC

Klein entered provincial politics two months later, winning the Kirkfield Park byelection for the Progressive Conservatives. He became the environment minister in early 2023.

Klein told CBC News last month that he would likely run for leadership of the PC Party. The next leader is slated to be chosen in April 2025.

Staff at the publications were informed of the sale on Monday morning.

There are 37 unionized employees at the Winnipeg Sun alone, a representative for Unifor said. They'll retain their jobs, along with the collective bargaining agreement they had signed. The non-unionized employees will be re-offered their jobs with the Klein Group.

The editorial employees mostly work from home.

The Winnipeg Sun was founded in 1980 as an independent newspaper. The Quebecor media group purchased the paper in 1983 and incorporated it into the Sun newspaper chain in 1999.

Postmedia purchased the Sun papers in 2015.

In the memo to employees, Postmedia called the sale to the Klein Group a "new and unique model," as the company will continue to provide support to the new owners, as well as national news stories and opinion pieces to supplement local coverage.

"This is a model that is unique to a distinct market where we have no other geographic presence — the papers were no longer sustainable for us, and we were able to attract a local group with a commitment to keeping operations going."

The newspaper industry has been decimated by cratering advertising revenues as more consumers get their news coverage online. Postmedia has closed or sold dozens of newspapers over the years, including a number of weekly community papers in Manitoba in 2020.

Postmedia reported a net loss of $20.1 million in the second quarter of 2024, while revenue dropped 13 per cent.

'Trusted and valuable journalism'

Monday's memo to Manitoba staff described the sale to the Klein Group as good for the communities and employees, as the new owners are expected to keep running the publications in their current form.

It also said while there are benefits to this transaction, in which ownership is transferred but support is still being provided, it isn't indicative of a wider strategy for the company.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with a local group that will continue Postmedia's long tradition of providing trusted and valuable journalism in these important markets," Andrew MacLeod, president and CEO of Postmedia, said in a news release.

Financial details of the sale weren't disclosed.

Klein didn't return CBC News requests for comments about the pending sale last Friday. At the time, Postmedia said it doesn't speak about rumours.

Klein has yet to respond to CBC's requests on Monday.