Madam Speaker, I am pleased to share my time with the member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix.
I have stated the obvious on a few occasions in the past, and I would like to make it crystal clear today: One nation does not entrust its soul, identity, art, culture, history, dance, music, theatre, cinema and, least of all, language to another nation.
We learned that the Liberals and their NDP butlers will vote against the Bloc Québécois's bill on French-language proficiency. This is proof that one should not entrust one's language to another nation. This is not posturing. It is based on something we can measure and assess over time. Bill C-10 contains two clear examples of the danger of entrusting one's soul, culture, language and art to another nation.
I will start with foreign ownership. This is so blatant that nobody could get me to believe that the government does not know what it is doing. If it does not, it should not be here. Right now, there are rules saying that a broadcasting or telecommunications undertaking must be under Canadian control. This gives some protection to the arts and various forms of expression—Canadian, in this case—from the hegemony of power that dominates global culture today. It makes no sense to give up this protection and replace it with a cheque, as if our soul were for sale to the highest bidder. In our case, that is our next door neighbour.
The idea that one's soul, culture, arts, music, and songs should not be left in the hands of another nation applies to Canada as well. Margaret Atwood is not Californian, and Robert J. Sawyer is not Texan. This surrender, this laying down of arms before American culture is extremely dangerous.
Here is an extreme example: An American web multinational required to invest 30% in Canadian production can mandate an undertaking it bought in Canada to produce a TV series in English only. What is in it for us? This is a serious setback.
The other example, of course, is the percentage of French. In previous programs, particularly the music ones that I am familiar with—I even sat on the Canadian Music Council, which some will find amusing—there were rules requiring a certain percentage of French. Often, in the agreement, it was 40% French. Why was that? Because first of all, it takes a critical mass to provide a basis for professionalizing these sectors. This was true in the music sector for Musicaction, FACTOR or even Fonds RadioStar, among others.
That was before a formal review of the rules, as is now proposed. Today, this obligation must be enshrined into law. This assurance that French-language production has access to basic tools and a minimum of resources must be maintained. It now needs to be formalized.
Let us not kid ourselves. If this obligation is not enshrined into law, then what the CRTC will understand is that, both for Canadian ownership and for maintaining the percentage of French content, Parliament's intention is not to protect, but rather to not protect. Indeed, there is no such thing as a neutral position, and the law is supposed to set out Parliament's intent.
The government said that it did not want to set a percentage for French-language content, for fear that the minimum percentage would become a maximum. I felt a pang, and realized it was true. Imagine Netflix, Disney+, Spotify and Canada deciding one day that they want to invest 45% in French content but they would not dare do so because the minimum was set at 35%. It is as though they do not understand the meaning of the word “minimum”. People are smarter than they think.
This does not have a neutral effect. The call for capital that comes with that 30%, on top of what companies are already able to do under this kind of legislation, is channelled to English-language productions. We have all seen those series produced by Netflix for Netflix, some of which are filmed in the native language and then dubbed in English, but the English subtitles do not match the English words being said. People generally stop watching halfway through an episode because it is completely unwatchable. The lips do not match the words being spoken, and those do not even match the subtitles. It may be because I am not too bright, but I do not find that enjoyable. Others decide to do the series in English right off the bat. Netflix is happy, people are watching at home and everyone is happy.
This does not have a neutral effect. We emphatically stand up for these people. These are actors, singers, authors, performers of all kinds who have the desire, because that is in their soul, to express themselves in French, to bring out what they have inside that needs to come out, because that is what being an artist is all about. They want to express themselves and to do it in French. Some may dabble in other languages from time to time, but that is where their soul is and that is what they want to do.
It is not just the current money or the new money that will be channelled. There is a call for capital to do business and take over the world. Producers are doing business. I used to be a producer and I was not making songs. I was selling the product. Producers want to go and work where there is the biggest market in English, with all the money that is in those web multinationals. This does not have a neutral effect. I tell francophone artists that they must not let themselves be taken for a ride. The resources that are now invested in French-language production will drop. It will not be the same. It will certainly not go up. It will drop, because, without any form of protection, the call for capital will go to English.
I think it is fair to say that the bill in its current form does not make anything better. In fact, it could even make things worse. Everyone is gushing over the French language at this point, but their actions will reveal how they truly feel; before then, however, someone has to stand up and say that this will not do.
If this is corrected and if Canadian ownership and the percentage of French is included in the act, then the modest expertise of the Bloc Québécois, which has occasionally touched on this a bit, will be put to good use.
Otherwise, I wish to inform the House that the Bloc Québécois will take as much time as it takes, but it will never give up its soul, which is first and foremost, like Quebec's, French.