House of Commons Hansard #193 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was railways.


6:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, April 1, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Official LanguagesAdjournment Proceedings

March 31st, 2015 / 6:10 p.m.


Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 27, I was concerned about French-language television programming outside Quebec. A number of Canadians and francophone organizations across Canada are outraged about the current situation.

I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages to support the NDP's motion to have the Standing Committee on Official Languages study Canada's French-language television programming. I would like to give an overview of the situation before I ask my questions of the minister.

It is sad to see that the responsibility for protecting the French language falls to a government that won the booby prize from Impératif français for its lack of leadership on francophone issues, that has been cutting funding to the French network of the CBC for years, and that appoints unilingual anglophones to positions that are critical to promoting French within the government.

Every day we get more bad news about official languages. Last week we learned about new cuts at the CBC, this time to the French network.

Louis Lalande, vice-president of French services, announced the elimination of about 80 jobs, plus 20 more through positions left vacant and retirements. Ten jobs will be eliminated in Acadia, 15 in Ontario, 16 in the western provinces, and 10 at ICI Musique. Téléjournal will also be cut by 30 minutes in Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay and Trois-Rivières.

The experts we want to see appear before the Standing Committee on Official Languages will say that these decisions will have a major impact on the vitality of Canada's Francophonie.

I would like to remind hon. members that the government is required to respect the Official Languages Act and the Broadcasting Act. The minister should coordinate the implementation of official languages commitments within all federal institutions, including CBC/Radio-Canada. However, thousands of francophones outside Quebec are seeing their services dwindle, particularly in the area of broadcasting.

CBC/Radio-Canada has the mandate to strive to be of equivalent quality in English and in French. Minority francophone communities in a number of regions can no longer watch the Montreal Canadiens hockey games in French because this service is available only to subscribers and no longer offered in French.

Our problem with the government is that it is not respecting the rights of French Canadians to have equal services in both official languages.

Is the minister comfortable with the cuts to French television programming in Canada? She must be, otherwise she would do something about it. Nothing is being done in this regard. The minister is hiding behind her Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018, while French continues to disappear in this country.

We have witnessed a steady drop in French over the past 30 years. It is frightening. Year after year, there is a steady decline in the demographic weight of francophones in Canada.

I find it appalling that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages is happy with the progress that is being made in the official languages file. She needs to roll up her sleeves and get started on the tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to maintain the equal status of both official languages in Canada.

I am therefore asking the minister again whether she will support our request that a committee study Canada's television programming and respect the rights of francophone minorities, and whether she will come and testify in committee if she is asked to do so.

Official LanguagesAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec


Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss French-language television programming outside Quebec, programming that our government happens to support in a number of ways.

To begin, the Canada media fund, which is funded by the federal government and cable and satellite distributors in Canada, is the largest fund in the industry for the production of Canadian television programs and digital media content. The CMF funds Canadian television programs and digital media content in both official languages and in aboriginal languages. It also encourages official language minority community productions.

Through a contribution agreement, the government has allocated a stable, permanent envelope of $134.1 million per year since 2010-11. Under the agreement, we set the CMF's guiding principles and broad public policy directions.

One of the things the contribution agreement between the government and the CMF stipulates is that one-third of the funding allocated through the convergent stream and the experimental stream must be granted to French-language productions. This provision ensures the sustainability of French-language television production, while giving Canadians the opportunity to watch programs produced in both official languages.

Also under the contribution agreement, the government must guarantee French-language television producers outside Quebec access to the francophone minority program. That program will provide $10.75 million in 2015-16 to support productions that reflect the realities of living in francophone communities outside Quebec. In 2013-14, 32 projects were funded through that program, for a total of 147 hours of television, a record high for the past four years.

The total production budgets supported by the francophone minority program, considering all other sources of funding, increased by $4.1 million compared to 2012-13, for a total of $24.8 million. Other measures also exist to support French-language programming, notably through the CRTC.

For example, in 2013, the Commission granted a licence to UNIS, a new French-language television service with the mandate of representing minority francophone communities. The CRTC recognized the importance of providing programming for francophones living outside Quebec by making the distribution of UNIS mandatory with the basic package of cable and satellite television service providers across Canada. Accordingly, all Canadian subscribers of these services have access to it.

In addition, our government recognizes that CBC/Radio-Canada, as the national public broadcaster, plays a vital role in official language minority communities. Every year, our government allocates more than $1 billion to help it fulfill its obligations as a public national broadcaster.

With the most recent renewal of the television licences of CBC/Radio-Canada in May 2013, the CRTC established conditions to ensure that services reflect the realities of the country and official language minority communities, and also to promote understanding and mutual respect through information and national news programming.

Under the conditions of its licence, Radio-Canada is also required to devote at least 6% of its annual budget to Canadian programs by independent producers from Atlantic Canada, Ontario, the west, the north and Quebec, excluding Montreal. This obligation resulted in $9.5 million in expenditures for independent regional French-language programming in 2013-14.

In closing, the corporation's French-language services must also broadcast, on average, a minimum of five hours of Canadian programs produced in the regions I mentioned every week over the broadcast year.

Official LanguagesAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.


Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, we have many criticisms of this government's handling of official languages.

This morning we learned that more than 1,000 internships are in jeopardy in Canada. The new Canadian rules put in place by the Conservative government without consultation could undermine a historic agreement between France and Quebec.

More than 1,000 French students who come and invigorate our schools and businesses as part of internships in Quebec could be denied visas. Canada could become less attractive to francophone students, which is very worrisome.

These francophone students enhance the vitality of our francophone communities, and they are likely to help maintain the demographic weight of Canada's francophones.

Can the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration explain why he is not fulfilling the promises made by the Minister of International Trade to attract more than 450,000 students by 2022?

Official LanguagesAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am not the minister who can answer that question. However, in her previous question, the hon. member mentioned that Montreal Canadiens games were not always available to francophones across the country.

That situation exists because of private negotiations for regional broadcast rights between broadcasters and NHL teams. Those negotiations are guided by market forces and are not subject to government intervention. I am sure we can all agree that it would be inappropriate for the Government of Canada to intervene in negotiations between private sector companies about broadcast rights for Montreal Canadiens games.

Official LanguagesAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:24 p.m.)