Madam Speaker, again, the question I asked on February 11 was the following:
What will the Minister of Canadian Heritage do to counteract budget cuts such as those made at Radio-Canada and more specifically those affecting the news program Ce soir . Could she expand on that?
The minister's response was, and I quote:
-Radio-Canada has decided to reconsider its decision to terminate programming of Ce soir . In fact, programming in Saskatchewan and Alberta would be maintained.
I hope that, after the government, or Radio-Canada in this case, has been persuaded to change its mind, the principle will have been established that, when a decision is made by an organization, this decision can always be overturned, reviewed, reconsidered if necessary.
This point of principle I just raised is an important point because the decision in question has widespread implications in terms of the services provided to francophone minorities outside Quebec and particularly in western Canada. In spite of the protection they
are afforded, these communities always have to fight for their basic rights, in this case, access to news in French. That is unfair.
I am very happy for francophone communities in western Canada that Radio-Canada decided not to terminate programming of Ce Soir . There is a need, however, for the government and Radio-Canada to understand their respective role, which is essential to Canadian unity. Radio-Canada is essential to the continued existence of the French language as a living language, spoken and written in western Canada and, to this end, it must do everything in its power to provide local programming and access to news programming to francophones across the country.
Does the federal government have a role to play in ensuring that Radio-Canada can go on producing quality programs in French? I think so. In fact, I am convinced that it does. I might add that, in my view, the government should provide the necessary financial support to its minorities, be it for television or radio programming, education, or whatever else is required to improve their well-being.
I do not want the government to save money at the expense of our French language institutions any more, those institutions that provide us with the infrastructure we need in order to be able to live and prosper in French. The government has a duty to make sure the necessary tools are in place so that our communities can not only live in French but also improve their quality of life. That is what I expect from the government this evening.