Third reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, as amended

By: The Hon. Dennis Dawson

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Hon. Dennis Dawson moved third reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, as amended.

He said: Honourable senators, today I again have the pleasure to speak with you at third reading of Bill C-11, the online streaming act. Modernizing the Broadcasting Act is a key legislative priority for the government. This bill will clarify that online streamers are subject to the act and will update the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s, or CRTC’s, tool kit to put in place a new regulatory framework.

Modernizing the law means adapting it to today’s reality and laying the groundwork for the future. This must be done in a way that takes into account today’s reality — a reality where digital technology is increasingly present in people’s lives, a reality where there are a variety of business models in the current Canadian broadcasting system. The legislation must therefore establish an up-to-date regulatory framework with clear direction, the necessary tools and the flexibility to remain relevant.

As you all know, the last major update to the Broadcasting Act dates back to 1991. As we all have seen, since 1991, there has been tremendous change in the broadcasting sector. The arrival of the internet and new digital technologies has changed the way we communicate with each other and the way we consume our culture. More recently, with the pandemic, we have seen how technology is taking a huge place in our daily lives, and it is clear that this reality will not change.

The sector has undergone change at an unprecedented pace. The majority of Canadians now turn to online streaming services to access their favourite music, their favourite movies and their favourite TV shows. Services like Netflix, Spotify, Crave, CBC Gem, club illico are household names alongside the traditional services of radio, television and cable, and these traditional services remain important, especially to certain demographics. Canadians stream 2 billion songs in a single week using services like Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music.

According to a survey conducted by l’Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo, or l’ADISQ, 61% of respondents said they listen to music on online services like Spotify and Apple Music. But that does not mean online broadcasters have replaced traditional broadcasters. In that same survey, 60% of respondents noted that they use the radio as a tool for discovering music. Make no mistake; although the consumption of media has changed, it has not come close to replacing traditional broadcasting. What hasn’t changed, however, is our regulatory system, and it desperately needs to be updated.

The general director of l’ADISQ, Eve Paré, testified before us during the study undertaken by the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications. She said:

This situation is a concern for creators and producers, but also for the public, who are very attached to their culture. In that same survey, we learn that 73% of Quebecers believe that the government should adopt legislation so that services such as Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube also have to contribute to funding this content. In addition, 70% of those who stream music say they would like to see recommendations of French-language music from Quebec.

For several years, streaming services have had a significant impact on our broadcasting system. The reality is that satellite and cable services are losing subscribers. The broadcasting system has lost revenue, advertisers and viewership to online services.

However, despite all this, the law hasn’t changed. The government and parliamentarians have been working carefully on this bill for a long time, and the number of citizens who participated is a good indication of how important this topic is.

The Senate has done its work. Over the past several months, we’ve had important conversations. We heard from over 130 witnesses who came to talk to us about this bill. Colleagues, I thank you for the extensive work you have done. Now, we need to get the proposed Online Streaming Act passed to support our creators, our cultural industries and all Canadians.

Bill C-11 is part of a broader set of initiatives put forward by the government to create a forward-thinking digital policy agenda, including the online news act that we talked about a few minutes ago and the government’s commitment to address online safety. Bill C-11 aligns with other acts and legislative instruments and respects the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also helps Canada fulfil its international commitments, such as the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It is important that we modernize the broadcasting framework. This is the task at hand.

It has been almost two years since Bill C-10 was introduced to modernize the Broadcasting Act, and I am before you again. In 2021, when we had Bill C-10 before us, I remarked that neither I nor the government had the intention to ram this legislation through the Senate. Well, here we are in 2023, and 20 months later you can see — some people doubted — that I was telling the truth.

Before Bill C-10, in June 2018, the Government of Canada appointed a panel to review the broadcasting and telecommunications legislative framework. That panel studied these issues for two years and published a report called Canada’s Communications Future: Time to Act. They received over 2,000 written submissions. That same year, it turns out, my colleagues and I on the Transport and Communications Committee began a study on this topic, but we deferred to the national panel’s study.

With the committee report on Bill C-11 presented to this chamber late in 2022, we have finally finished that study.

When I rose to introduce Bill C-10 to you, I noted that the bill had already received considerable input. With 112 days at committee stage at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, with over 40 meetings and close to 50 witnesses — not counting departmental briefings — the bill reflected the work done by parliamentarians and substantial input from industry and community stakeholders. Collectively, the interested parties recognize the need to modernize the act, even as their opinions may differ on the details.

As this bill reaches us today, Bill C-11 has received even more input. As tabled, the bill builds upon the work done on Bill C-10 during the last session with targeted changes to social media and some technical amendments. Parliamentarians once again had the opportunity to amend the bill during the House of Commons’ clause-by-clause study. Senators once again had the opportunity to study this bill.

As I said earlier, we have had many witnesses come before us at the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, and just as promised for Bill C-10, neither I nor the government pushed to ram Bill C-11 through the Senate.

In fact, we welcomed an expansive study and heard from every single person and group that requested to testify — every single one.

Your faithful committee and I patiently and openly listened to their requests, their opinions and their concerns. We listened to professors, lawyers, cultural sectors, associations, unions, researchers, consumer groups, official language minority communities, government regulators, taxpayer federations, digital creators, traditional broadcasters, independent broadcasters, online audio streaming services, et cetera. As you can see, a lot of people gave their opinions and we’re proud of the report that was adopted.

Your committee and I listened patiently to 138 witnesses over 31 meetings totalling 67 hours and 30 minutes. We listened patiently, and when we heard the confusion and misinformation surrounding the bill, at the end of the study we then heard from government officials who put to rest many of the misconceptions that had been put on the table.

Furthermore, concerns expressed about how streaming could negatively impact the broadcasting sector are neither new nor hypothetical. However, it is important to contextualize the facts because the decision not to impose obligations on online services dates back to the previous century. At the time, those services weren’t having much of an impact on the broadcasting sector. It was important to let those innovative new services evolve.

That is obviously no longer the case. The world has changed, and the imbalance caused by lack of regulation must be fixed as soon as possible so that web giants contribute their fair share to supporting Canadian music and stories just as traditional Canadian broadcasters do.

Critics have suggested that this bill will result in foreign players withdrawing from the Canadian market. This is not the case — in fact, we have observed the opposite. These platforms — more than 75 online streaming services, including the big ones we all know — are available in Canada. More are coming and their content libraries are growing.

Online streamers compete directly with regulated broadcasters. In some cases, due to licensing, the only way Canadian consumers can view the latest and most popular series in tentpole franchises, like “Andor” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” is through streaming services. Even “Kim’s Convenience” and “Schitt’s Creek,” content commissioned by the CBC, is being watched by Canadians on platforms like Netflix instead of on Canadian services like Gem.

In the past, when Canadian broadcasters licensed foreign programming, these services in turn supported Canadian programming through regulatory obligations. However, streaming services are not presently required to support the broadcasting system as traditional Canadian broadcasters do. This is a problem that requires urgent action and one that the “Online Streaming Act” directly addresses.

This is not a quick cash grab or punishment to those who have enjoyed success in an unregulated environment. The “Online Streaming Act” is not about picking winners and losers in the landscape of Canada’s broadcasting system. It does not compromise the personal freedoms of Canadians by censoring the internet.

This is about updating our laws and regulations to revamp the framework of our broadcasting system for today and for tomorrow. It is about providing the certainty and structure for sustainable success into the future.

What it does is simple: The legislation accounts for the realities of modern broadcasting and ensures a level playing field where all commercial players materially contribute to attaining the objectives of the Broadcasting Act. This bill is asking platforms that benefit from Canadian culture to contribute to our culture.

Our chamber has an important role to play within our democratic process and has performed that role admirably. We studied its merits and aims to better understand how it will work and why it is so important. We have carefully listened to every point of view that has been presented. And ours is only one part of the process. Following this work, consultations will be held with everyone that wants to participate, and that is by design in this bill.

Many of our colleagues have raised important issues throughout the study of this bill. I hope that they will continue their engagement on these issues through the consultation process.

At a high level, the “Online Steaming Act” addresses many important issues.

The “Online Streaming Act” advances the interests of Canada and Canadians in several ways. Canadian broadcasters compete on an uneven regulatory playing field. Right now, Canadian broadcasters are subject to the full extent of Canadian broadcasting regulation, and online streamers are not.

The “Online Streaming Act” is critical for sustaining the support ecosystem for Canadian culture, music and stories by levelling the playing field and ensuring the health of our cultural broadcasting sector. It is needed to secure sustainable investment in Canadian stories, both for TV and film; it is recognized by music stakeholders as critical to supporting and making discoverable our music and songs, in all of our languages; and it provides space within our broadcasting system for our communities that have faced systemic marginalization. Equity-seeking groups deserve to see themselves represented onscreen and to have opportunities to fill key creative roles in Canadian productions.

As the minister said, the “Online Streaming Act” is not about regulating what people post online. This has been made very clear, time and time again. Rather, it is about seeking an equitable contribution from all big streaming services that are in the business of distributing commercial content.

I’d like to highlight the word “equitable” here. As we heard during our study from both the CRTC and government officials, contributions can take any number of forms that are not necessarily monetary:

With respect to expenditure requirements, that money is never transferred. An expenditure requirement stays within the company. It’s essentially an investment obligation on their part to invest that in Canadian production, but they still retain control in the decision making over how they will do that.

We do expect some services, because they may not have a big production footprint here or otherwise, that their contribution may look more like what we know now for cable and satellite companies, which is a contribution to a cultural production fund, such as the Canada Media Fund. Those revenues, though, do not go to the department. That transfer is overseen by the CRTC, and that money is remitted directly to the Canada Media Fund, for example.

We also heard from both officials and stakeholders themselves that they already contribute to our cultural entertainment sector in a variety of ways.

This debate comes at a pivotal moment. After the transformative innovations of the early internet era, we are amidst a new wave of the digital revolution. The government will ensure that new technologies work for — not against — our democratic institutions and, importantly, that they will further Canada’s cultural interests.

Our overarching objective remains to ensure continuing support for Canadian stories, music and culture in a sector that is increasingly saturated by foreign online streaming services and web giants.

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications has listened carefully to various groups of stakeholders. Working together, members of this chamber have developed proposals to further improve the bill, and I am sure more amendments might come forward over the next few days. Amendments from all parties and groups were proposed and adopted. No voice was shut out. No witnesses nor any of our colleagues were not heard.

Our broadcasting regulatory framework is out of date. Its application is uneven, and this imbalance will continue to hurt our creative industries until this legislation is passed and its thoughtful processes are completed. An imbalanced system does not serve the interests of Canada nor Canadians and limits our ability to realize the cultural and broadcasting policy objectives that the Broadcasting Act is ultimately meant to protect.

The government is asking us to work together to see this bill through the legislative process in a timely fashion, in the interest of our artists, our creators and Canadians altogether. I believe we are doing precisely that, while appropriately listening, considering and providing our sober second thought.

We must update our legislation to reflect the reality of digital disruption in the sector.

Honourable senators, we are faced with an important task; righting the regulatory asymmetry between traditional and online broadcast undertakings has been delayed for far too long. I wrote in 1982 that policy initiatives at that time were designed to develop greater appreciation for Canada’s rich social, historic and cultural heritage.

The goals I wrote about at that time remain true today. The regulations of that day, however, are outdated.

The process around modernizing the Broadcasting Act has seen considerable remarkable debate and discussion. In some cases, prevailing misconceptions and fears have obscured the real issues. These misconceptions have, time and again, been discussed, analyzed and rejected.

I’m well aware of some parties’ concerns about Bill C-11. It is time to come up with solutions. We have to address these regulatory challenges right now by requiring online music and video broadcasting services to contribute to our culture just as traditional broadcasters have always done.

I would point out that, under the 1991 Broadcasting Act, traditional broadcasting companies had to be owned and controlled by Canadians and had to be licensed. They could, and still can, broadcast programs from the international market and American stations.

In exchange for participating in the Canadian broadcasting system and accessing the national market, these companies had to finance, acquire and broadcast Canadian programs. They were also required to make programs available to Canadians and contribute to the creation of Canadian programs, including programs in French.

This does not happen by accident. It was intentional, and it worked. Our broadcasting system saw an increase in demand for Canadian programs. Our creative talent flourished, and our cultural industries saw predictable investments upon which they could plan to build and grow.

However, the support system for our stories and music has been eroding as revenues shift away from traditional broadcasters to online streaming services. This puts the support system for Canadian stories and music at risk.

Honourable colleagues, a primary goal of the renewed approach to regulation is to provide sustainable support for Canadian music and stories in the years ahead. The bill aims for fair treatment of programs consumed on different platforms, regardless of how they are transmitted.

New legislation will shift away from issuing broadcasting licences to a new condition-of-service model. This provides the CRTC with a new and more flexible way to seek contributions from broadcasters and to impose other conditions, including conditions related to discoverability and showcasing of Canadian programs. The latter is particularly important for Canada’s musical artists, particularly French-speaking artists and others trying to compete in an industry dominated by heavyweights. In this framework, broadcasting undertakings, including online undertakings, would be required to make financial contributions to support Canadian music, stories, creators and producers.

I’d like to address two notable themes in the bill that merit some clear and specific mention here. They are the treatment of digital-first creators and the approach to social media.

The bill is clear that digital-first creators are not considered to be broadcasting undertakings. A producer of audio-visual content that is primarily produced and intended for online distribution as user-uploaded content on a social media service will be excluded.

Some critics of the bill have suggested that 30% of digital-first creators’ revenues could be contributed to arts funding. This is simply not true. Digital-first creators will not be required to make financial contributions to support Canadian content.

Large social media services will be asked to contribute to Canadian music and storytelling if they provide commercial content, such as music and TV shows. You’ve heard many examples raised during this debate. Since digital-first creators are exempt, their revenues will not be used to calculate the contributions that social media services make to support Canadian content.

Additionally, digital-first creators will not be subject to discoverability or showcasing requirements. Again, despite what some critics of the bill have claimed, the government has heard the concerns of digital-first creators and is responding to them through a recalibrated approach to social media.

Discoverability can also come in a variety of forms, as we have heard during the study at committee. Discovery is an objective, and the CRTC will be empowered to consult with industry stakeholders to set out what discovery looks like in an online space. Whatever it looks like, digital creators will not be subject to those regulations, as they are exempt from the bill.

As the minister has said many times: platforms in, users out. I said that in my speech last year, and I am saying it in my speech again this year.

In summary, these provisions ensure that social media services contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system in a fair and equitable manner when they provide the same services as traditional broadcasters and other online streamers. At the same time, it can be done in a way that respects the rights, freedoms and choices of Canadians online.

To help understand why action is urgently needed, let’s look at the current economic reality in the sector.

Broadcasting is an important economic driver, which supports Canada’s creative industries and its evolving cultural identity.

Together, the Canadian broadcasting, film and video, and music and sound recording sectors contribute $14 billion to Canada’s GDP and create more than 160,000 jobs. I’m speaking to my colleague who is an expert in finance to clearly demonstrate how important these sectors are.

Over the past decade, the percentage of Canadians who subscribe to online broadcasters has grown from 6% to 78%. Even if we only focus on the last few years, the revenues of online streaming services have seen fast and substantial growth, while traditional broadcasters have seen steadily shrinking revenues.

This is no surprise. After all, we know that the world of broadcasting has changed. In addition to this new reality, the Canadian broadcasting sector is facing long-term structural change.

Without intervention, current trends in the market are expected to result in a decline in the production of Canadian television content. In 2020, we had already seen a $320 million drop in production compared to 2018 levels.

Sustainable, long-term support for the system is required to enable ongoing success for Canadian creators, producers and broadcasters. That is what this modernization is about. That is what the online streaming act will achieve.

The status quo is unacceptable.

Cultural policy is a main element of this legislation. Ensuring the continued viability of the Canadian broadcasting system is also about our cultural sovereignty. Culture can play a role in the process of truth-telling and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and healing.

These are some of the cultural policy issues that the Broadcasting Act addresses. It seeks to ensure that our broadcasting system is more fair and inclusive, that it will support the livelihood of Canadian artists and creators and that it will celebrate the lives of Canadians, who want to see more of themselves reflected on the screen and in song.

Real gains for Canadians are achieved through this legislation. These gains are a cornerstone for the survival of community media, local news, French language, racialized communities, third-language programming and so much more.

We have heard at committee that this legislation will give these content producers more breathing room in the space that they occupy.

We have heard from witnesses that foreign broadcasters need to play by the same rules as local broadcasters. Kevin Desjardins, President of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, said it best when he testified at committee:

Canadian broadcasters are desperate for regulatory clarity and certainty. They need to know the rules they and their foreign competitors will be operating under to plan their businesses, and they need to know the rules will be fair and equitable. Canadian broadcasters are willing to compete, but they cannot do so in a system that allows increasingly dominant players to take as much as they want and only give back as much as they like.

Furthermore, this legislation also aims to ensure a space within our broadcasting system for Indigenous storytelling and Indigenous languages. Monika Ille, the Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network told our committee:

There are also additional references in the bill to support Indigenous language programming. The regulatory policy section in paragraph 5(2)(a) of the Broadcasting Act will require the CRTC to take into account the different characteristics of French, English and Indigenous language broadcasting as well as the needs and interests of Indigenous peoples. This is the first time Indigenous language content has been placed on an equal footing with English and French language content in the act.

Colleagues, we are truly making progress with this act.

Honourable senators, I would like to review the process that will take place after third reading of the bill. If we pass a bill that is different from the one passed by the other place, the bill will be sent back to the House of Commons so that it can review our amendments. The House of Commons will then have the choice to accept all, some or none of our amendments. Whatever the other place decides, it will send us a message informing us of its decision.

Our objective is to agree on the same bill. Once we achieve that objective, the bill will receive royal assent. Then, the government will issue a policy direction to the CRTC. A policy direction is often used to tell an organization how to implement important policies. The CRTC’s policy direction will indicate the priorities for implementing the new regulatory framework.

The policy direction has two main objectives. First, it will focus on the importance of consultation and the special consideration of the needs of equity groups. Second, the policy direction will clearly indicate the areas in which regulation is necessary and the areas where caution must be exercised.

Once the policy direction is published, every stakeholder, including members of the public, will have at least 30 days to share their comments. Let me emphasize that we’re bringing in a regulatory process similar to those in other sectors. This means that the proposed policy direction will be published, followed by an opportunity for members of the public to make comments, then the final policy direction will be published.

The CRTC will have its own public process as it develops measures for bringing into force the legislation. This will be done within limits clearly set out in the legislation and in accordance with the proposed policy direction.

To sum up, before the legislation is brought into force, the CRTC will receive a policy direction from the government. That policy direction will have two objectives: focus on the need for public consultations with members of marginalized communities and clearly highlight areas where regulation is necessary. Through hearings, members of the public will then have the opportunity to express their points of view.

Then, the final version of the policy direction will be published. The CRTC will begin to implement the legislation through its own process. That is what we heard at committee meetings.

This is what Mr. Ripley, from the Department of Canadian Heritage, communicated to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications about the process:

The way we see this playing out is that once the bill achieves Royal Assent, the CRTC at that point would begin its regulatory processes and hearings to put in place the necessary regulatory instruments to bring the online streaming platforms into the system. As for what that will look like in practice, the CRTC is skilled in this. They are used to doing these kinds of hearings. They would put up a notice and invite submissions about the forms that those would take. It would be open to all interested parties to participate in those processes, including online streaming services, the creative community here in Canada and groups representing the public interest. Then the CRTC would enter into its decision-making and publish its final decision at the end.

The online streaming bill offers many opportunities. It offers the opportunity to achieve greater diversity in perspectives, to realize and consolidate gains for many communities and to ensure inclusive support within our broadcasting sector. The Canadian broadcasting sector is very diversified. We are fortunate to have content producers who come from various communities. For example, I’m thinking of OUTtv, which offers LGBTQ+ content, or APTN, which offers Indigenous content.

The online streaming bill will provide Canadians with the opportunity to diversify the content they consume. To provide greater diversity of perspectives and inclusive support that represents and aligns with our communities, Canadians of diverse backgrounds must see a broadcasting system that reflects the importance of diversity and inclusion.

It is important to note that Bill C-11 addresses an urgent and long-standing problem, specifically the imbalances in Canadian broadcasting for equity-seeking groups that have never received this support.

Bill C-11 strengthens our broadcasting system by including an explicit broadcasting policy objective requiring that it include all Canadians.

Another strengthened objective requires that accessible and barrier-free programming be provided. Accessible and inclusive broadcasting are not an afterthought; they are foundational pillars on which to build.

In terms of diversity and inclusion, one of the goals of the bill is to put diverse and marginalized voices in the spotlight. For example, Indigenous people, racialized people, 2SLGBTQI+ communities, people with disabilities and women must be represented on screen and behind the scenes.

Historically, these voices have been under-represented in our broadcasting system. The goal is to expand content choices for all viewers and listeners who have difficulty identifying with content or finding content that reflects their reality. To that end, the broadcasting system must support and promote programs and creators from diverse communities and backgrounds.

The broadcasting system cannot be updated without ensuring that all Canadians from diverse communities and backgrounds see themselves reflected and supported. While some lament that niche markets will be lost, this is simply not true. The proposed legislation makes space for all. It cements that we are a country that not only invites diversity but encourages it and supports its creation.

Broadcasting reform can support First Nations, Inuit and Métis storytelling, music and culture. The government has listened to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The need to focus on Indigenous storytelling, narrative sovereignty and content creation is clear. Bill C-11 will see important improvements to Canada’s broadcasting system to better reflect our relationships with Indigenous peoples for the first time.

In particular, the broadcasting framework will make space, regardless of resource availability, for diverse First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives. Indigenous communities are ready to produce and broadcast more content. What lacked before Bill C-11 was the resources.

I quote the Co-Executive Director of the Indigenous Screen Office, Jesse Wente:

To us, the central focus should be the modernization of the definitions associated with broadcasting and broadcast undertakings, ensuring that there is equitable access and support for marginalized communities and that there be specific supports for Indigenous storytelling and Indigenous languages broadcasting. We believe new platforms, even those based outside Canada, should contribute financially to support Canadian storytelling and that there should be dedicated supports for Indigenous storytelling within that. . . .

Colleagues, this is what Bill C-11 will achieve. Bill C-11 removes the previous limitation “as resources become available for the purpose” with respect to providing programming that reflects the cultures of Canada within our broadcasting system. This is how it should be. It should always have been this way.

New technologies and platforms can aid in the revitalization of Indigenous languages. It’s heartbreaking to know that many of our Indigenous languages, such as Oneida, Cayuga and Seneca, are on the brink of extinction, according to the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger project.

Ensuring space for Indigenous peoples to have narrative sovereignty is important and will support our efforts to revitalize Indigenous languages. Modernizing the act includes changes to help Indigenous peoples tell their stories from their own viewpoints and perspectives and to see themselves represented in our broadcasting system. This bill emphasizes the importance of Indigenous-controlled broadcasting services and productions.

French language programming is also a cornerstone of our broadcasting future.

Bill C-11 strengthens original French-language content and production, which shouldn’t rely solely on dubbing and subtitling. Broadcasters, both traditional and online, must make original French-language content a priority on their platforms.

More and more people are speaking out about how foreign programming is mostly in English and there’s so much more of it than there is of original content and production in French — even though this is something francophone communities across the country really need.

Our committee heard how pleased official language minority community advocacy organizations are with the language provisions included in Bill C-11. The Executive Director of the Alliance des producteurs francophones du Canada, APFC, Carol Ann Pilon, shared the following with the committee:

APFC welcomed Bill C-11’s historic focus on the Canadian audiovisual ecosystem, particularly its formal consideration of the OLMCs and the objectives it set for the broadcasting system as a whole to reflect the specific needs and interests of those communities.

I see that Senator Cormier is listening intently to this part.

Thanks to an agreement between Quebec’s main film distributor, Les Films Séville, and streaming services Netflix Canada, Club illico and ICI, our favourite francophone films can reach new audiences and generate more revenue. More and more opportunities like these will become available to the francophone creative sector as the world tunes in to its vibrant voice.

As a senator from Quebec, I feel it’s particularly important to ensure ongoing support for Quebec’s audiovisual media sector. I really want to focus on the experience of francophones and anglophones in minority communities. Canada’s linguistic duality is heavily reliant on the country’s broadcasting system. This legislation addresses the needs and interests of minority francophone and anglophone communities across the country. They want to be identified and named in the bill as a means of ensuring their long-term growth and development.

The Broadcasting Act contains objectives for English-speaking and French-speaking minority communities. The legislation clarifies that any interpretation and application of the act must respect the federal government’s desire to enhance the vitality of these communities and to support their development, as well as ensure the recognition and use of official languages in Canadian society. The CRTC must also enhance the presentation of programs created and produced by these communities, in addition to taking into account their specific needs and interests.

The broadcasting system, including the new digital players, plays an important role in the transmission of language and culture in Canada.

Honourable senators, we must act now. Our artists are a source of inspiration, breathing life and energy into our diverse communities on a daily basis. They revitalize the spirit of our culture. They elevate and celebrate our heritage as Canadians. They make us laugh, they move us and they make us reflect on who we are. They have been there for us, and we need to stand up for them. To put it simply, the goal of the bill is to promote and protect our culture in the digital age.

It is clear that we need to modernize the Broadcasting Act. The bill has broad support across Canada’s cultural industries. Moreover, this bill is in the public interest. It is about making sure that we continue to uphold Canadian values in our society as technology and consumer habits evolve. After all, are we not citizens and people, as well as consumers and audiences?

The Minister of Canadian Heritage used to say that a day without culture would be boring, and I agree with him. The world is watching what we are doing. We are leading the way. I hope that together we will be part of the solution.

As I have explained, your committee and I have listened patiently to everyone that wished to be heard. The Canadian broadcasting and cultural sectors have also been waiting patiently. Colleagues, I believe we have been patient enough. Now is the time to act and to pass this bill. Thank you.

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