Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I feel privileged to speak at this first meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and I would like to thank our first two witnesses for accepting our invitation so quickly. We extended it just last week.
We are pleased that you are joining us today. I feel that it sets the scene well for the work we have to do here at the committee on this pressing issue, promoting content, culture and the business of culture in Canada.
I would be remiss if I did not tell you again—as I have been able to tell you unofficially— that I greatly appreciate some aspects of the report, specifically the one on network accessibility. As you know, I live across from Quebec City and my constituency includes 30 municipalities. As I have said before, we have volunteer firefighters who cannot be reached by either cell phone or Internet. So network access is important. I really liked your recommendation that those living in rural or remote areas not be treated as second-class citizens. I also appreciated your recommendation to act with a sense of urgency.
As we are in the opposition, we are urging the government to act, but, unfortunately the announced funding is not appearing. Currently, in my constituency, we rely on provincial funds to solve the most pressing problems. There are also definition problems that are a little technical. Apparently we are not remote enough to have access to the programs. Those are things of which we want the government to be aware, and you have done so in your report.
The third point that seems interesting to me is about really reviewing the mandate of Radio-Canada, with its major role as a national public broadcaster and with long-term funding recognized. It is equally important to see clearly the role that it can play in this environment, I will come back to the whole matter of the role that Radio-Canada can play in a digital world.
I don't know if your group focused on this, Ms. Yale, but I would like to come back to the point that you mentioned. I feel that your report is clear, but perhaps the Minister's unfortunate interpretation has led to confusion.
Can you tell us again clearly today how you see freedom of expression in terms of the media? Could you repeat it for my benefit? You mentioned it in your introduction, but I would like us to have it settled so that we can move on to the regulatory framework as such.
How does your report see journalistic independence?